Vettel: Passion crucial to success

Date published: March 7 2012

Seb Vettel believes that if he lost his passion for F1 he would no longer be able to succeed but concedes that there is less room for drivers to show their passion than in the past…

World Champion Sebastian Vettel believes that if he lost his incredible passion for F1 he would no longer be able to succeed in the sport but concedes that there is less room for drivers to show their passion than in the past.

In years gone by, it was not uncommon for tensions between drivers to result in heated verbal and even physical confrontations. However, with corporate responsibilities now front and centre for drivers, Vettel feels that they are forced to keep their emotions in check, which can lead to a blander appearance.

“I watched Senna,” Vettel told The Guardian of last year’s documentary about the legendary Brazilian driver.

“And it was very inspiring to me. Maybe the film doesn’t show you the entire story, the complete truth, but it was very inspirational to see the background and compare it to today. The driver briefings had lots of emotion.

“It’s different now. I’m not speaking badly of that time but if you compare racing then and now, 20 years later, then it’s much more professional today. Now there’s less room for …”

“Yes, maybe passion. I think we still have characters but there’s less room and time to show that. It’s unnatural today to go out with the other drivers and have a beer. If I did, and there were two or three drivers having a beer on a Saturday night …”

“Well, you wouldn’t even want to imagine the fuss and the story it would create. And then if something goes wrong the next day for those three drivers then … woof! It’s sad in one way but, in another way, the extreme professionalism now allows you to perform at an even higher level.”

That said, the German asserts that it is an extreme passion for what he does that helps him to achieve success.

“It’s the same as every other job, isn’t it,” he mused.

“You need passion to succeed. Yes, being a racing driver is a special job but, generally, if you don’t like what you do then you’re not going to be very good. You will face a point inside you where you think: ‘Is this the right thing? Why am I doing this?’
“If you go to work every morning just because you need a cheque at the end of the month it’s not great. Money can be a motivation but it will never make you happy. Obviously, racing in F1, all of us are very fortunate because we’re doing something we loved as a child and now it’s our job – and we earn good money. So for us, as drivers, it’s great. And when you’re successful it becomes even better.”

Having won two World titles on the trot, Vettel will match Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to have won three Championships in a row if he comes out top again this season. Growing up in Germany, it comes as no surprise that Schumacher was a hero of Vettel’s as a child.

“When I grew up Michael was a hero right across Germany,” he said.

“For all the kids racing in go-karts he was the one. I remember, once, there were 120 kids between eight and 12 years old and we were all trying to qualify for this race Michael organised. The final 34 got to compete in the race and it was a big deal because Michael waved the chequered flag. To be part of that was a dream – and to actually win it was the best thing that could ever happen.”

The 24-year-old may have only finished seventh on that occasion but he has gone on to emulate his hero on the most important stage of all.

With this in mind, many have asked the question: will Vettel follow in Schumacher’s footsteps and join Ferrari? For now, Vettel sees no reason to but admits it may be an option in the future.

“I don’t know. If you look at Michael you can see how long you can race if you’ve got the passion. Michael’s been around 20 years. I’ve been in F1 five years. Time goes by quickly but at the moment I can’t think of a better place than this. I feel comfortable with the team and happy to work in such a great atmosphere. We’re still hungry. We’re still pushing for improvement. We’re driven for more. We always want more. So at the moment I’m entirely happy. But, sure, one day, it would be a dream to drive for a team like Ferrari,” he said.