The annual Race of Champions may be a way for drivers of all disciplines across the motorsport world to let down their hair at the end of the campaign, but Sebastian Vettel has revealed that once the helmet is strapped on, the only objective is victory.
Alongside compatriot and record-breaking seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, Vettel helped to steer Germany to Nations' Cup glory in the 2007 edition of the end-of-season extravaganza at Wembley Stadium, impressively seeing off the threats of former Race of Champions winners Heikki Kovalainen and Marcus Grönholm along the way.
Now, twelve months on from that achievement, the Red Bull Racing star has returned to Wembley with the clear goal of defending his country's trophy – and maybe even of adding the individual laurels to his burgeoning career CV into the bargain.
“I always enjoy it,” Vettel – who at just 21 became the youngest driver ever to triumph in the top flight when he stormed to Italian Grand Prix victory at Monza back in September – told Crash.net Radio
. “It's always nice to see the other drivers and have a chat and some laughs.
“It's a chance to joke around a bit at the end of the season, and we also get some action on the circuit and some good fights, so it's good. I think as soon as everybody has their helmet on and is sitting in the car, they want to win. It's a pure fight out there, but of course once the helmet is taken off you can start laughing and joking around again.
“I think the secret in the team is to rely on each other, and he [Schumacher] is not too bad a driver, so we'll see. It will be tough, though, because the conditions today are quite difficult to estimate.”
Meanwhile, one man making his Race of Champions debut in the Abarth 500 Celebrity Challenge may be a former winner at Wembley, but not behind the wheel of a car…
“It's very nice,” 1995 WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno enthused, “and I feel very privileged to be here. I drive a car every day, but this is different and it's good fun being at Wembley.
“I've boxed here and won the world title here, but I've never been in the new Wembley until now. The track looks to be very tough, but I'm going to go out there and experience it so I'll let you know how just tough it is afterwards…”
by Russell Atkins at Wembley