Defending world driver champion Sebastian Vettel says it’s still too early to talk about a championship hunt, despite coming off a dominant win from Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
“I think it’s a long season. At the moment it looks pretty good but still a long way to go. Things can change quickly,” Vettel commented during a tour of the Car and Driver office at Ann Arbor, Michigan. with Infiniti.
“Looking at the score board… is not that important. It’s nice to hear that people remind us that we are on top, but it’s still too far and too many races to go to really talk about the title.
“I think we have a competitive car, a strong car. The circumstances are different every weekend, and for sure we are pushing very hard to develop the car and make it faster. But it’s difficult to foresee what’s going to happen at every single event. We’ve got to be on top of our game and see what we can do.”
A pragmatic Vettel said getting the new Pirelli tyres to work with the current car and understanding the evolving compounds remain the team’s biggest challenge.
“The last event was very good for me, in Canada. It was average in terms of controlling the tyres, which we haven’t always been. So it’s a step forward from where we were.
“Every weekend the conditions change. We have different compounds. Every track has a different roughness in terms of asphalt. It’s not that simple. It’s not just walk up, get into the car and drive out. If you have a problem, change it. It’s not that easy. It’s very complex.
“We are working very hard on that and I think we’ve done a good job since race 1. But surely there is more we can do.
Vettel confirmed work on the 2014 car is fully under way back at the Infiniti Red Bull Factory in Milton Keynes.
“I have been in the simulator. We’re working very hard on the 2014 car already, but still it’s a lot of work to do.
“On the challenges, it’s a lot of things that will change. I think probably less buttons to push but more stuff to change probably. From what I understand, what I saw when I visited Renault plant in France, in terms of the new engine. It’s incredible the amount of new technology, the amount of development that takes place also in terms of what happens with the car.
“It looks very interesting but it’s a massive change.”
Vettel said the introduction of DRS has been “over the top” at times. But its overall contribution to improving the on-track spectacle outweighed the criticisms.
“I think it got better. Obviously it was a new system, a new technology in the beginning. At some races it was over the top so it was too easy to pass. The FIA did a good job controlling the distance of the activation zones, to really control the advantage.
“I think it’s a good thing. It spices up the racing. Generally if you look at Formula One now, it’s a lot more entertaining. It’s much better show, but it’s still racing, but much, much better to watch.”
When asked who the hardest guy in the field to pass was, Vettel singled out former F1 driver Jarno Trulli as one of his most difficult competitors to overtake on the race track.
“I think Trulli was a nightmare, to be honest. Fortunately he’s not around anymore. Somehow he managed to be wider than the track limits,” joked Vettel.
“But the other guys, I think racing Lewis or racing Fernando [Alonso], it’s tough. But there’s a lot of respect. Same as racing Michael [Schumacher] for the last couple years. You could really go not just close to his tyres [but] literally just one finger in between, and you felt safe because you knew the other guy was in control. It’s generally very difficult to get past these guys because they know also how to defend.”
“You need respect. You need to trust the other guy. I think it’s important to have that trust and knowledge about that guy you race with. To know that you can really go to the edge or leave a little bit of a gap.”