Newly-crowned Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has lavished praise upon the entire Red Bull team after securing his fourth consecutive title in India today, struggling for words on the podium.
Vettel crossed the line almost thirty seconds ahead of his closest rival in India, dominating the race and clinching the championship to enjoy a 115 point lead with just 75 points available in the final three races. After performing donuts for the fans, Vettel eventually made his way to the podium where he made his elation clear.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “I crossed the line and I was empty. I took ages to think about something to say. It’s one of these moments you wish to say so many things but you can’t. The spirit inside the team is so strong; it gives me so much power, it’s a pleasure to jump in the car and go out for the guys and try to give it all I have. The car was phenomenal today, it was phenomenal all season to be honest, but I couldn’t ask for more.”
Vettel continued to praise the team before explaining how he felt this victory in India would silence many of his critics, having faced a chorus of boos at a number of races so far this season.
“I want to say a big thank you to the team, to all of the people who are behind us, it was for sure not an easy season, even if people from the outside had the idea that we had it in our hands for quite a while, but I think it was a difficult one all in all,” the newly-crowned world champion explained. “A very difficult one for me personally, to receive boos even though you haven’t done anything wrong but to overcome that and to give the right answer on the track and finally get the acceptance we are all looking for as racing drivers makes me very proud to join people like Prost, Fangio and Michael [Schumacher] is unbelievable.”
The German driver becomes just the fourth driver in the history of the sport to win four world champions, tying with Alain Prost and trailing Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by one and three titles respectively. There is no doubt that he has established himself as a legend of the sport, and at 26, Schumacher’s records are well within his reach.
Following the confirmation that Mercedes took part in a secret tire test after the Spanish Grand Prix, Pirelli has acted quickly to defend itself over the matter, claiming that the German team did not benefit from the test.
In-season testing is banned, but Mercedes ran around 1000km at the Circuit de Catalunya two weeks ago, and despite an outcry from the other teams, Pirelli’s F1 chief Paul Hembery is confident that no rules have been broken.
“Absolutely not, no,” Hembery said when asked if Mercedes had benefited from the test by Autosport. “Because it’s no relevance to what’s happening here.
“It’s completely regular in that we are allowed to do 1000 kilometre of tire testing with any team.”
Hembery also revealed that plans were in place to do another test in the near future.
“We’ve done it before with another team and we’ve asked another team to do some work as well.”
This tire row looks set to continue throughout the weekend, but Mercedes will be keen on putting this controversy behind them to convert their front-row lockout into their first win in 2013. Pirelli are adamant that such a test is permitted by their contract with the sport, and Mercedes also maintain their innocence over the matter.
Lotus owner Gerard Lopez believes that the team was unfortunate not to win last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, lamenting traffic which stopped Kimi Raikkonen’s charge early on.
Raikkonen utilized a three-stop strategy at the Circuit de Catalunya in order to jump the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa during the race, but he still finished a full 9 seconds behind race winner Fernando Alonso on Sunday. However, Lopez has great faith in the team following a strong start to the season.
“We thought there was a way to win it. We lost the race right at the beginning when Fernando and Vettel were able to jump Hamilton and we got stuck a couple of times in traffic. That’s where we lost the race, and other than that, it was very good,” Lopez told Adam Cooper. “The car is super consistent, and it was fast on both tyres.”
When asked about the rest of the field, Lopez highlighted Ferrari as being the front-runners following their fine performance at last weekend’s race, and he also revealed his surprise at Red Bull’s form in Spain.
“I was a bit surprised by the Red Bulls. Spain was an important race, everybody’s going to throw what they have at the car.
“I think Mercedes we expected to be fast on one lap. The Ferrari is probably the strongest car right now. Red Bull maybe a little bit below where we expected them.”
Lotus has certainly made a good start to the season, currently sitting P3 in the constructors’ championship and Kimi Raikkonen leads their drivers’ title charge, just four points behind Vettel at the top. Lopez has every reason to be pleased with his team, and they will be keen on continuing this form into the rest of the season.
McLaren driver Jenson Button has admitted that he is embarrassed by the lack of pace the team has this season in light of the great support he receives from the fans.
Button finished the Spanish Grand Prix in 8th, which he conceded was not too bad considering he had dropped to P17 at the end of the first lap.
“For me it was an interesting race my start wasn’t very strong which was unusual because we are usually strong at the start,” Button told the BBC.
“Turn one was a mess so to finish 8th probably wasn’t too bad but there is a lot of work still to do. Some of the speeds cars were going past me means we have got as lot to do.”
Button did manage to fight back to finish in the points, crossing the line just ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, and the 2009 world champion is confident that McLaren can turn their fortunes around.
“It is still possible for us to still get up there and I want to thank all the fans for their support, it’s a bit embarrassing really to see them all but we will get it right.”
During the race, Button passed Lewis Hamilton for 11th place, which summed up how far back both drivers are compared to their 2012 pace. With these upgrades failing to provide McLaren with a great increase in performance, questions will be asked of the British team heading into the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
Fernando Alonso has written off the 30 point gap to championship leader Sebastian Vettel, believing that the F138 has given him a great shot at the 2013 world championship.
“Last year we were 1.5 seconds behind the top cars. This year we have finished two races without problems and we were second in Australia and won in China. It’s a very different feeling – and very different package which brings us optimism and confidence,” Alonso explained during the drivers’ press conference.
When talking about the gap to Vettel, Alonso compared it to the way in which the Red Bull driver overcame his own lead last season.
“It’s true we are some points behind, but the Championship is long and we have seen last year that Sebastian was 43 points behind us after the summer break and arrived with the lead in Austin.
“In five or six races you can recover 50 points with some consistent results.”
However, Alonso did say that should the gap become too great, his championship aspirations would be over.
“Until we are 75 or 80 points behind, we should be optimistic.”
Ferrari has endured a mixed start to the season. Despite the F138 being ‘on a different planet’ compared to the 2012 car according to the drivers, two difficult races for Alonso has seen him drop back from the leaders. However, the team will be pleased to have already scored one win so far this season, and Alonso will be keen on impressing in front of his home fans this weekend.