Three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has said that he does not feel the pressure of defending his titles heading into the opening round of the 2013 Formula One season.
“The secret is not to think about what happened the last three years,” Vettel said in an interview, before going on to reveal that he has felt less pressure since winning his first championship in 2010.
“After that, you don’t have that pressure anymore. You have proved to yourself more than anyone else that you can do so.”
Vettel has a mixed record at the Australian Grand Prix, with his highlight coming in 2011 when he won the race with ease. Last year, he finished in second place following a fortuitous safety car period, but crashes in 2009 and 2010 will undoubtedly be playing on the Vettel’s mind during the weekend.
The Red Bull driver also spoke about the new Pirelli tires which have been designed to be more aggressive in 2013, requiring greater management and care.
“In winter testing, we all suffered the same problems: the tires didn’t last. We hope it gets better here, otherwise it could be quite funny.”
Sergio Perez predicted in Barcelona that Australia could see as many as four stops, and with Pirelli electing to provide their softest tire for the weekend, it will be important to pick the right strategy to be in with a chance of winning in Melbourne. Vettel may not show signs of cracking under the pressure of three championships, but should he fail to reach the podium on Sunday, questions will be raised regarding the pace of his Red Bull RB9 for the season ahead.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).
Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.
However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
- If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
- If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.
While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.
The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.
As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.
The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.