Sebastian Vettel has admitted to having had 'a lot of moments' along the way to securing Red Bull Racing's breakthrough Formula 1 victory in the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend – a result he described as 'phenomenal' and one he hinted would be the cue for the party to end all parties in Shanghai tonight...
Having already delivered the energy drinks-backed outfit its maiden pole position in the top flight at its 74th attempt, Vettel went one better still on race day by producing a sublime performance in torrential conditions that caught out many of his rivals. It was not unlike the sort of drives that used to be the preserve of his record-breaking seven-time world champion compatriot Michael Schumacher – a man in whose footsteps the 21-year-old is already being tipped to tread in seasons to follow.
What's more, as if it was not enough merely destroying the opposition with his sheer wet weather pace – as he had done en route
to his own debut triumph for Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last year – he made a point of further demonstrating his and Red Bull's new-found superiority by battling his way past the Brawn GP of world championship leader Jenson Button on the track late on, even though he knew the Briton rival had a pit-stop to make whereas he did not. For someone so young, it was a truly consummate performance – even if he acknowledged that it was far from an easy one.
“It's phenomenal!” enthused the 21-year-old. “It's unbelievable – I'm so, so happy. It was a very long race and it was extremely difficult, because there was a lot of standing water, with some rivers and even some lakes. Cars were going off, and the team was telling me by radio 'be careful, be careful'.
“I had all the time those warnings, but I had a lot of moments of aquaplaning where the car just started to slide, and I was hoping the tyres would stick again. Fortunately I always got the control of the car back a bit later, and ten laps from the end I tried to control the gap between me and the car behind and adapt my pace.
“I was trying to have everything under control, but it was difficult. At some points I was trying to bring the car home, but that meant I lost focus, so then I just tried to take it corner by corner, not looking too far ahead. In the last two laps I backed off a bit, as I didn't want to risk aquaplaning on the water at the side of the track.
“Yesterday we struggled a little bit with the reliability; today that was no problem at all for both cars as we finished one-two. I think Saturday night was the first night the mechanics had a bit more sleep, and they did a good job in the pit-stops. Throughout the whole race we had no problems. It's an incredible achievement.”
That it most certainly was, and the young German's enthusiasm and delight after taking the chequered flag was clear for all to see. His only regret, he conceded, was that Adrian Newey – the man responsible for having penned the Renault-powered RB5 he drove to victory – and his design team were not in China to witness to result, being busy working away back in Milton Keynes to hastily produce a new 'double-decker' diffuser for the car to try and make it even more competitive. Still, there will assuredly be more successes for Newey and co. to appreciate first-hand.
“When you're in the car and you can give back this kind of result it just feels fantastic,” grinned the man from Heppenheim. “I said by radio 'enjoy this moment'; I did myself, and I think everybody in the team did. Winning my second race – one with Toro Rosso and one with Red Bull – makes me extremely happy and I hope we can continue working in this direction. I'm so proud because it was an enormous and great job by the whole of Red Bull. I want to say a massive thank you to them all; everyone has worked so hard.
“I think this championship will be very, very interesting throughout the season – you bring another step, update, small improvement or big improvement and you can make a big difference because everyone is so close to each other. Of course we are pushing hard; the only downside is that they (Newey and his team) are not here to celebrate with us. My flight is tomorrow, so I have basically all night left – and Red Bull knows how to party!”