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Ferrari is the “dream of a lifetime,” says Vettel

Ferrari has finally confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will partner Kimi Raikkonen in 2015, adding that the German has a three-year deal.

Vettel made it clear that he is fulfilling a dream by signing for the Scuderia.

“Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1,” said Marco Mattiacci. “In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write a new chapter in the history of Ferrari.”

Vettel commented: “The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true. When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello.

“The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

The team made the announcement immediately after issuing a statement about the departure of Fernando Alonso.

Alonso said today that he first told the team of his intentions in September. Meanwhile confirmation of his expected move to McLaren won’t be confirmed until after December 1.

“In the Scuderia Ferrari roll of honour of great drivers, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place,” said Mattiacci. “We offer him our heartfelt thanks for what has been an extraordinary adventure with the Scuderia, when in the past five years, he twice came so close to winning the world championship. I am sure that a great driver like Fernando will always hold the Prancing Horse dear to his heart and I also expect the Ferrari fans will continue to hold him in high regard in his future endeavours.”

“Today is not an easy one for me,” said Alonso. “Because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end. It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration. I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too. I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position.

“I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits. I also proved to be a true team-player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own. When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team. I am very proud of what we have achieved together.

“Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula 1 World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps. Without a shadow of a doubt, these five years produced some of the best moments of my career and I also feel that, in leaving the team, it is family rather than friends I am leaving behind. Now I look to the future with great enthusiasm, knowing that part of my heart will always belong to the Prancing Horse. I want to thank each and everyone of the team for the trust they showed in me.”

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Vettel still comfortable as Red Bull guards 2015 secrets

Sebastian Vettel believes that he has not been frozen out of technical discussions at Red Bull since he announced that he was leaving – but he concedes that inevitably he’s not being updated on developments for 2015.

“I think I’ve been long enough with the team to know what’s going on,” he said when asked if he was out of the loop. “So I don’t get pushed outside. After five years you know someone. There’s mutual trust.

“All the stuff that happens on the car for next year doesn’t get discussed with me, which is normal. But equally there’s stuff that we test here on the track which I’m sure will possibly be used next year, and from a team point of view it’s the best foot forward to use both of the cars to do that.

“Surely if it’s any kind of secret, I wouldn’t know about it since I told them I will leave. Like I said I don’t get pushed out, so I don’t feel like the third wheel on the wagon, or something like that.”

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Vettel will run in Q1 to meet 107% rule, says Horner

RBR boss Christian Horner has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will take part in Q1 in Austin, but it will be only a token appearance to ensure that the German fulfils the 107% rule.

Vettel is due to start from the pitlane thanks to taking a complete sixth power unit.

“I think it’s a silly rule, isn’t it?,” Horner told Sky TV. “To have to eliminate a car totally from qualifying, it doesn’t really make sense. People are here to come and see the guys qualify and do the best they can. It’s a crazy situation that we’ve got a four-time World Champion effectively not taking part tomorrow. We will take part in the first part of qualifying, but we’re going to be limiting mileage to an absolute minimum.

“The problem is that the rules dictate that wherever he qualifies, he’s in the pitlane. This power unit has now got to do three races. We know they’re fragile so we’ve got to save as many kilometres as we can. Theoretically he’s only go to do one or two laps.

“I think it’s right that he takes part in the event. It’s important that he registers a lap, he’s within 107%, there’s no debate as to whether he’ll be racing or not on Sunday.”

Horner denied that there had been any pressure from Bernie Ecclestone: “I haven’t had that conversation with Bernie. He hasn’t said, ‘You’ve got to send your cars out,’ or anything like that. We need to abide by the rules. It’s only right that Sebastian does go out and do a lap in qualy. People are coming here to see the drivers in action, it would be silly to have him in the pit wall.”

Vettel was last in FP2 as he missed track time and had no need to run in qualifying trim: “It’s been a busy day. We had a gearbox change between P1 and P2 with Sebastian, and then a rear wing change that took a long time during the session just because we’re trying different set-ups. We managed to get the data we wanted out of the session, now it’s a matter of crunching the numbers tonight and working out what’s the best thing to do for the race.

“He’s obviously only been focussed on long runs because there’s no point looking at the short runs.”

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Red Bull’s Monza result the “absolute optimum,” says Horner

Christian Horner says that Red Bull could not have bettered the fifth and sixth places secured by Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel at Monza, a circuit that the team expected to be the most challenging of the year.

The two drivers followed different strategies, with Vettel stopping very early, and Ricciardo very late. The converged in the closing laps when Ricciardo was able to pass his team mate after a short but hard battle between the pair.

“Fifth and sixth was the absolute optimum,” said Horner. “Obviously all the cars ahead us are Mercedes-powered, and the cars behind us were mainly Mercedes-powered, so I think to get fifth and sixth positions was the absolute optimum today. When you consider the last two races, Spa and here, which are predominantly power dominated, I think we’ve extracted a little more than we could have hoped for.”

Explaining the strategy choices he said: “We [Vettel] were racing against the McLarens, we were in that train, versus Magnussen, and Jenson behind and Fernando. It was a question of do we go for the undercut, do we go for track position, and then go for tyre conservation?

“So we went aggressive with Seb, we went for the undercut, which he made work. He delivered the lap time, and got the track position. Obviously versus the guys that he was racing, that worked very well, in that he held his position to the McLarens and the Force India. Obviously Fernando dropped out of that.

“The decision with Daniel was dictated by the fact that he wasn’t in that group at the start, so we had the option to go longer. He wasn’t going to undercut anyone, so we thought we’d go as long as we can, before the tyres hit the cliff, and then pit and give him fresh tyres for the end of the race.

“What Daniel did was truly impressive, some of his overtaking manoeuvres to get him back into contention. Sebastian’s tyres unfortunately were six laps short of keeping that position. At the time you make a decision you’ve got to go with what’s in front of you.”

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McLaren will hire “the best drivers available,” says Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis says he’s satisfied with the performance of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in 2014, but confirms that McLaren is keeping its options open on future driver choice as it enters the Honda era.

The names of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have all been connected with the team, although in theory none are free until 2016 or even later.

Dennis was reminded that a few weeks ago he said that Jenson had to “try harder,” a remark that created something of a stir at the time.

“Anyone who has actually seen the TV interview in question will know that there was an element of humour in what I said,” he told the official F1 website. “Having said that, did I also intend to give Jenson a bit of a wake-up call? Yes, I did. But I did it softly, not maliciously. Indeed, perhaps the efficacy of my strategy was confirmed by the fact that Jenson immediately reacted by achieving his best race result of the year.

“Anyway, to tackle the specificity of your question, yes, I’m satisfied with both Jenson and Kevin. They’re both capable of winning Grands Prix in a competitive car – Jenson has proved that 15 times in his long Formula One career, and Kevin has already demonstrated abundant pace in his so-far-short Formula One career – but clearly we’re not giving them a competitive car at the moment.

“Nonetheless, despite that, I want them to give their best – and, at the same time, be responsible enough to appreciate that McLaren will always make efforts to hire the best drivers available. If such opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them; we always have and we always will. All great Formula One teams are the same in that regard. But we’re not in a position to do that at the moment.”

Asked about the possibility of attracting a marquee name such as Vettel or Alonso he added: “As I say, we’ll always look to employ the best drivers available – but they have to be available, don’t they? Having said that, for the avoidance of doubt, Jenson and Kevin represent an excellent blend of capable experience and youthful promise, and we’re very happy with both of them. The fact that we’re keeping an eye on what a few other drivers are up to in no way contradicts that, because, as I say, if opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them – we always have and we always will.”

Asked if any driver could be available in the right circumstances he said: “Well, that depends on whether you respect drivers’ contracts or not, and I do.”

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FIA made right calls on Vettel/Alonso fight, says Horner

Christian Horner says that the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at Silverstone was a fair one, despite some controversy about how much of the run-off area they were using.

Both drivers complained on team radio about their rival exceeding track limits, something that the FIA had brought up before the race. Vettel eventually got past, and pulled away to claim fifth.

“It was two guys going at it hammer and tongs,” said Horner. “And it was great racing. The problem is they’ve introduced all these rules about circuit limits. They’re both professional, they’re both going to be pointing out the errors of the other. At the end of the day it was great racing. Sebastian made a massive move.

“It was on the limit, but it was racing, firm racing. Seb made his move stick, and he was very, very brave. Fernando is the type of driver that you can go wheel to wheel with like that, and he’ll just about give you the space, but no more.”

Both drivers received warnings from the FIA about exceeding track limits.

“They were both on the limit. It was six of one and half a dozen of the other. It would be wrong to penalise one of them. Fernando was benefiting at Turns 9 and 18 constantly, which Sebastian was quick to point out. And Sebastian was doing whatever he could to try and pass him.

“Charlie [Whiting] pointed out a couple of times track limits to Seb, and Alonso got a warning flag, which was for track limits. The problem is when you’ve got run-off like that, and it’s quicker, drivers are going to want to abuse it.”

Horner said that the FIA made the right calls: “I think that we’ve just made a move to allow a bit more freedom to allow the guys to race. I think that’s a good thing. The problem is there have got to be rules, but where’s the line? And you’ve got to give the stewards a degree of freedom to make sensible decisions.”

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Sebastian Vettel: “It will be a difficult race…”

Sebastian Vettel starts the Austrian GP from a humble 12th place after losing out to Daniel Ricciardo once again, albeit by just 0.163s in the crucial Q2 session

Vettel – who qualified 13th but gains a spot from the Sergio Perez penalty – made no excuses for being beaten by his team mate,.

“First off I think he did a good job,” said Vettel. “On my side basically I did the same lap twice, so it’s not as if there was a lot left. There’s always a feeling when you cross the line that you should have been a bit better here and there, so arguably not enough to make it through.

“I don’t think that there was one particular corner that was standing out, I think it was just a little bit of time here and there.”

Vettel remains optimistic for the race.

“It’s always bitter when you don’t get into the next round, but then again from where we are now we get an extra set of tyres for tomorrow, so maybe that can help us to move up. I think generally in terms of pace it will be tricky, but I think there’s a chance to pass a couple of cars.

“We weren’t quick enough to go amongst the fastest group of cars. For the race obviously we always hope that they will be closer again and we can make a step forward in terms of looking after the tyres, getting the right strategy. It will be a difficult race but nevertheless we are always optimistic in trying to move up.”

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Ricciardo form a “positive surprise,” says Vettel

Sebastian Vettel has often been overshadowed by Daniel Ricciardo this year, but the German insists that he’s been happy to see his team mate do well.

Vettel admits that, like the RBR team management, he’s been surprised by Ricciardo’s form.

“It’s a positive surprise,” he said when asked by this writer. “It’s good to see that he’s getting along well with the team, and he fits in. We have I think similar preferences about the car in terms of set-up, there’s not much difference that we’re running. It’s good to see that he’s doing a good job. Obviously I’ve been struggling a little bit in the first couple of races, with lots of different things, but it’s good to see that the other half is doing well, and it shows the potential of the car.”

Vettel said he’d learned from comparing their data.

“Obviously he’s been fairly quick so you can imagine that there have been corners where…. he’s been fairly quick! It’s good to see that, and as I said it’s good to have a reference. It shows you what the car can do. If you look at myself, it hasn’t been the smoothest year, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Vettel said there was no pattern as to where Ricciardo gained: “Not really. You can’t say that in a certain type of corner he’s gaining time, and losing in another. I think with Mark it’s fair to say that he was very quick in high speed corners, and showing me the limits sometimes! Let’s say it’s fairly even around the lap with Daniel.”

Meanwhile with reference to Hamilton/Rosberg he said that team mates don’t have to be friends.

“I think you shouldn’t be at war with your team mate, because it hurts the team atmosphere. But you don’t have to be best friends.”

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Vettel pays tribute to Jack Brabham

Sebastian Vettel is known for having a greater appreciation of F1 history than many of his colleagues, and today the German demonstrated that when he paid tribute to the late Sir Jack Brabham.

He acknowledged that the Australian’s feat of winning the World Championship in his own car was a special one.

“I was fortunate enough to still meet him in person, a couple of years ago at the Australian GP,” he said. “I think he’s one of those drivers who will be remembered for many things, especially the record you mentioned, which I think will last for as long as F1 will last, because there won’t be a driver in the future to win in his own car.

“Times have changed, but I think already back then it was an incredible achievement. I think there are certain records around like that – the other one is probably John Surtees, to win the championship in F1, but also on motorbikes.

“Simply as a fan as the sport it was a great loss, obviously not good news, but on the other hand he was 88 when he passed away, and I hope he enjoyed all of his 88 years on the planet.”

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Sebastian Vettel: “It would be wrong to stand here and complain…”

Sebastian Vettel hasn’t enjoyed a great start to 2014, but in Spain there were clear signs that he’s finally coming to terms with the RB10.

After a gearbox problem and grid penalty relegated him to 15th he used a three-stop strategy to jump up to fourth, setting fastest lap along the way. He was still 27s behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo, but he lost much of that in traffic in the early laps.

“All in all it was the maximum we could do,” he said. “The start wasn’t bad, I lost a place I think to Adrian, but then I was able to get it back towards the end of the lap. It’s always tricky when you’re back there, a very busy first lap.

“Then I was sort of stuck in the train, I couldn’t really feel how far we could go and how quick we were, but once we came in I was able on the harder tyre to stick with the people at the front, and even catch them a little bit. I think we realised that the pace was there. After that we had the two fresh sets from yesterday which we didn’t use in qualifying, and I could go further up the road.

“From a team point of view third and fourth is what we could get today, but if you are realistic then yes, Mercedes is very strong. They have a phenomenal engine, they have two very good drivers, a very good car, and a very good team. They are doing a good job. It would be wrong to stand here and complain and moan about how dominant they are, they worked better than everyone else ov er the winter, and they deserve to be in that position. Hopefully from out point of view sooner rather than later we can give them a hard time, and the Mercedes run comes to an end. So that’s our motivation.

“It’s just a question of time, I guess. Obviously we are here to fight for the championship. If you look at the championship the last couple of races weren’t so good for us, especially myself, whereas they were phenomenal for Mercedes. In time we can catch up, and as I said start giving them a run for their money.”

With regard to what Red Bull has to do to catch up, he said: “We’ve got to fight for every little bit. You can walk up and down the paddock but there’s not one stone that you turn and all of a sudden you are back. We have to make sure we take every little step, and if we add all these little steps together, hopefully sooner or later we’ll give them a very hard time and make sure they don’t finish first and second.”

He also had some positive words to say about the progress Red Bull has made since winter testing.

“I think it means that the team is incredibly strong. If you look where we started in Spain a couple of months ago and where we are now, obviously it’s a big step. Also it’s a fact that Mercedes is far ahead, and we need to make sure we keep making big steps.”

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