Sebastian Vettel says he's happy to let his results keep doing the talking
Triple World Champion also says everything reset for 2013
By James Galloway. Last Updated: February 4, 2013 11:34am
Sebastian Vettel says he's happy to let his statistics do the talking amid the ongoing debate about his status among the very best drivers currently in Formula 1.
Despite becoming the youngest three-times World Champion in the history of the sport - and one of only three drivers to claim a three titles on the spin - at the end of last season, the Red Bull star is far from universally regarded as the best all-round driver in the sport.
Indeed, that debate has been fuelled in recent time by both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who have reiterated on several occasions that they see each other as their greatest respective rival.
Asked at the launch of Red Bull's RB9 what he felt he had to do before he earned more public acknowledgement for his achievements from both fans and rivals, the 26-time GP winner was typically laid back about the situation.
"It's on the timesheet and on the list at the end of the year, I'm quite happy with that," he replied.
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Although Vettel's achievements since joining Red Bull in 2009 have already cemented his place among the most successful drivers in F1, the 25-year-old insists he goes into 2013 firmly looking forwards and focusing on preparing in the right way to start all over again this season.
"It's nice looking back at the numbers and seeing what you've achieved. I think it's pretty special and pretty difficult to keep on doing and repeat," he said.
"But the focus is not on continuing to write a certain story if you look at numbers and stuff like that, the focus is pretty much the same as every year - to start the season the right way, have a good first race in Melbourne and make sure that in testing we prepare the car as much as we can.
"Whether it's quick or not we will see and then obviously it's up to us to make it reliable so that it survives the whole season.
"Hopefully we are there [challenging] even though there is no guarantee for that. We know we have been doing pretty good in the last couple of years and as the regulations haven't changed that much it's probably the same teams as last year."
The 25-year-old clinched his hat-trick title by a mere three points last season from Ferrari star Alonso, the second time in three years he has pipped the Spaniard in a last-race decider.
Asked by Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz whether he considered Alonso his main threat again this year, Vettel insisted: "I think the best drivers are in the best teams. And from a team point of view I'm racing against the best team and the drivers' point of view the best drivers.
"So I think it's easy for you to make out who they are. Fernando is certainly one of them, there's no secret that I respect him a lot as a driver and have a high opinion of him. But there's others as well - Mark [Webber] is one of them, Lewis [Hamilton] is one of them and there's others.
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"I usually don't like to name them because there's a chance of forgetting one and that's not the idea..."
Immediately quietly pointed by Webber out that he had indeed omitted someone, Vettel swiftly added: "...Jenson. Sorry!"
While perhaps no more than an unintended omission, Kravitz said Vettel's failure to mention Button first time round, and the inclusion of arrival Hamilton on his list, was nonetheless revealing.
Appearing on Sky Sports News in the aftermath of the press conference in Milton Keynes, Ted told Craig Slater: "Sebastian Vettel knows that Lewis Hamilton can win races and therefore potentially championships in a car which isn't the fastest - Fernando Alonso has also said precisely the same thing only a few days ago.
"Vettel knows that Hamilton will be a danger, but he also mentioned Fernando Alonso and, because he was sitting next to him on the stage, Mark Webber - it would have been embarrassing if he hadn't mentioned him!
"But what I thought was interesting was the people he didn't mention: Jenson Button or Sergio Perez, the other McLaren driver, and neither did mention Nico Rosberg or Felipe Massa.
"I think we are going to see a World Championship primarily between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso this year, but Lewis Hamilton will get involved somewhere."