MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel reflected a widespread caution over predicting the outcome of the Formula One season on Thursday but at least the world champion was prepared to share his season goal, however unsurprising it was.
Driver after driver at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix expressed the opinion that winter testing had been inconclusive and only in Saturday’s qualifying, perhaps even in Sunday’s race, would the true pace of the cars be known.
The 24-year-old Red Bull driver broke the mould, however, when asked whether matching Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win three successive world titles was important.
“I’m here to win the championship so that’s the target,” he told a news conference ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
“Whether it is the third or not doesn’t make a difference. It would be nice, but the reason we’re here is to race and to win.”
The German also conceded that his compatriot Schumacher, who won five of his seven titles in succession from 2000-2004, was his boyhood hero - for a while at least.
“When I was growing up, and similar to a lot of kids of that age in Germany, we were admiring Michael,” he said.
“He was our hero, he was my hero.
“I had posters of him on my wall, yes I did, but when I got a bit older, I took them off and put some other posters on the wall,” he added, to laughter.
Vettel reprised his hero’s dominance when he won 11 of 19 races last year, including by a formidable 22 seconds at Albert Park, and claimed a record 15 pole positions.
Despite that dominance, Vettel said all we was able to report from his experiences in the car so far this year was that he felt good.
“I think it was difficult to read testing 100 percent,” he said. “We’ve got a feeling. It’s always important to have a good feeling about yourself, about the car, how you feel in the car.
“We were quite happy with that. It didn’t always go to plan but we were happy. It’s a bit unknown at this stage so it’s good to finally be here.”
One of the few changes to the regulations this year is that drivers will not be able to return to the main driving line at a corner if they have already made a defensive move.
“I think nothing has changed to be honest, yes, there is a little bit more in writing but I always found there is a code of honor or a gentleman’s agreement, if you like,” he said.
“If you are racing someone, you are allowed to race him hard but you should always give him enough room. Here and there you might disagree but largely it has worked well.”
Vettel also took time to explain why his fans would not be getting any updates from him on social media phenomenon Twitter this season.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “There is some good new technology but I prefer to talk to people.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston