I had the chance to get extremely sideways in an Infiniti Q50 with four-time F1 world champ Sebastian Vettel yesterday and, soon, I expect we'll have video of that encounter. In the meantime, I got an answer to one of your questions from the champ himself.
Allow me first to say that, while we may have done a Vettel hater's guide, in person there's not much to hate. He's funny, buoyant, and seems to accept whatever dumb question someone throws at him with the ease of a person who realizes how lucky his life is — even if that luck is largely an outgrowth of his immense talent.
Before they took media on hot laps with Vettel in the driver's seat (see the snippet of video below) to endear them to the Infiniti Q50, they let us answer questions as part of a mini press conference set up by the entourage of, oh, 4,000 people who travel in his entourage. It's important I note that all of these people are uniformly attractive, young, smart, and wearing matching Red Bull/Infiniti jackets. An army of achievers, surrounding racing's biggest active achiever.
Many of you wanted me to ask Hoccy's question, which was:
Ask him if he'll continue to do donuts after each win.
The answer should be yes.
Here's what he said, a wry smile on his face:
Depends on what's the fine [laughter]. Yeah, obviously in India the problem was that i didn't bring the car back to parc fermé.
I don't know, it has to come spontaneously… obviously if i'm in the position to think about it it means we had a very good race.
I just need to find the right place.
Immediately after, they joked that Infiniti should pick up the next fine, arguing it's an extra show for the people, to which new Infiniti Americas President Michael Bartsch promptly agreed (I think, I didn't write down exactly what he said, but should Vettel win and separate rubber particles from wheel I think we should all hold Infiniti responsible).
Vettel went on to talk about how he was mostly a regular driver on the streets, although he doesn't like traffic or queuing "despite being German." He also said that he thinks they can do a sub 2.0-second pit stop in the race but "the most important thing is to send it out with all the wheels on."
In terms of what makes Vettel so much better, this year, than every other driver:
It's a lot of factors, maybe you should ask the others what they did differently… We started out with a car that was more or less an evolution of last year's car and I think we had a strong car at the end of last year. Obviously, we didn't know where the others are, and very quickly we figured out we have a very competitive car, obviously the last couple of races were very very successful.
More coming when I get around to it.
Photo: Infiniti. Video: Piper Rastello