Sebastian Vettel has admitted that his 2013 F1 championship success took no less effort than claiming the title for a second time in 2012.
Speaking on his return to Milton Keynes, where he celebrated with the remainder of the Red Bull Racing team unable to be in Brazil with him at the weekend, the German insisted that the level of competition this season had made life tougher, but also more interesting, than it had been while running away that the front of the field in 2012, but maintained that he and the team had had to work just as hard a year ago.
“I'm not bothered by the fact that people look back to last year and say it was easy, because it wasn't - and it wasn't straightforward,” he claimed, “The results suggest maybe it was, but it wasn't always straightforward. We didn't go to the track expecting to win and of course there was only the chance not to win because everything was so good. We had to work very, very hard for our success last year.
“This year, obviously, it was closer with the other teams, so instead of finishing second, third or fourth, you sometimes finished fifth or eighth, [which] means you look back and say that every single point really matters, even the times when you're not competitive to win.
“I think, overall, we had a very competitive car [and] we won the constructors' championship, but I can see that there was more excitement. There was more excitement inside
the car as well. Last year, we started the race always from a great position, and didn't have to overtake so many people [but], if you come from the back of the field and you have to overtake people…..”
While Vettel's path to a third straight title only began to smooth out after he went on a winning spree from the start of the late-season 'flyaways', he still had to contend with speculation, ranging from suggestions that his car wasn't legal to rumours that he was poised to join Ferrari.
“In a way, the hardest thing is to win after you have won, because you get the attention - and the pressure can mean you are likely to focus on how to win again, rather than focusing on the small steps it takes to win in the first place.
“Of course, on top of that, it's always getting more and more tense at the end of a year, depending if you are fighting for the championship. Sometimes there are rumours going around, but the most important thing is that you focus on yourself and remain yourself – you don't try to be something that you are not because I think it just distracts and that takes energy away. I just focus on doing the best job I can.”