November 12, 2011
"Maybe I helped him understand his speed"
I thought the most interesting bit of the 2011 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying happened during the press conference. Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button both went into a bit of detail about what it takes to put together the perfect lap at Yas Marina. I really wish there was a platform for these guys to talk more about what they do on a technical level, I'm sick of hearing generalities and canned statements, I want to hear about turn in, camber, how to set a differential, line...
(photos via: motorionline.it)
Along those lines, I was reading Red Bulletin, who published a special Vettel edition highlighting some of the important people in his career and development. Tantalizing was the piece from Giorgio Ascanelli:
"Maybe I helped him understand his speed”
Giorgio ‘THE EDUCATOR’ Ascanelli technical director, scuderia Toro Rosso.
Nobody made Vettel. I certainly did not make him! He made himself. But at the 2008 european gp, in Valencia, something significant happened. Sebastian was driving for us that year, of course, and it was a funny weekend. There were a few new things on the car and the circuit were new for everybody.
I believed it was fundamental that Sebastian learned the circuit, more than anything else. In morning practice, he was the fastest driver, for the first time.
Then in the afternoon I noticed a lap which was extraordinary: with worn tyres and a heavy fuel load, he was still extremely fast.
When we spoke about the lap and looked at the data he wasn’t quite sure how he had done this, so I told him to go away and think about it.
Then the next day, Saturday, he came in and we chatted and he told me “I know what I did.” But I didn’t ask him exactly what that was. That’s for him to know. It’s his secret of being fast, if you like.
I just wanted him to think about the process of his driving and register it, mentally.
Something else that we gave him as a team, was that we gave him our complete trust when he came to us and that enabled him to trust us, too.
His first race for us was at the Hungarian gp, and that’s not an easy track. He made a mistake in qualifying and immediately said, “I made a mistake.” normally the racing driver’s book of excuses is longer than War and peace, so this was refreshing.
In general I don’t find it hard to be unpleasant, but it was hard to be unpleasant to Sebastian.
And he was always thinking, which allowed for a discussion about performance and not an argument"
Yeah, we'll never know their ultimate speed secrets but I sure would like to know more than we get now. I'm less and less interested about their family melodramas, I'm more into understanding exactly why Massa is almost always a half second behind Alonso in the same car. Or even how Ricciardo is kicking Liuzzi's butt.
Check out more on Red Bulletin, there are essays by Guillaume Roquelin, Mario Theissen, Riccardo Adami, Christian Horner and Gerd Noack, the man who first spotted Vettel as a eight (yeah, eight) year old karter at the Schumacher owned track in Kerpen. Fascinating stuff