Sebastian Vettel says he was happy to read Lewis Hamilton’s positive comments about the German driver on Twitter earlier this week.
Hamilton had indicated that F1 was getting boring with Vettel winning all the time, as was the case with Michael Schumacher.
“Obviously it’s very nice to hear something like that,” said Vettel on Thursday. “I think I can only give it back, I think. There is respect amongst the drivers. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that gets written and said but I think that the most important thing is when you go up to another driver, whether you feel respected or not, and I think that is the case. I think Lewis is one of the best drivers currently in Formula One. I get along quite well with him lately, so I can only say, ‘Thank you very much,’ and give it back.”
Meanwhile, Vettel played down talk of comparisons with the Schumacher era.
“Well, that’s a compliment, first of all,” he said. “I think it’s very different. I think there’s probably one race which was a bit of an exception. If you take Singapore, the gaps we had and were able to build up were incredible, to lap two seconds quicker than the cars behind us, but obviously it depends on who was behind us at the time and which tires [they had] and so on.
“But anyways, what I want to say is that if you take Korea, which I think is more similar to Spa, the gap was something between three and six seconds for the whole race. If you look at 10 years ago, it was more like 30 to 60 seconds, which is a big difference. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a nice cushion to have in the car, when you see that you’re three seconds down the road, but equally you know that if you make one stupid mistake … in Korea, for example, a lock-up which was very likely, and three seconds is nothing compared to 30 or 60.”
Regarding the upswing in form after the summer break, he said: “I think it’s right to say that we had a very strong car from the beginning of the season, strong enough to always finish in a very, very strong position on Sunday afternoon. Lately, I think we’ve been very strong in qualifying, as well, whereas at the beginning of the year Mercedes definitely seemed to have the upper hand.
“I think there’s no real explanation from our side. There’s not one part that went on the car and all of a sudden it was that much quicker. I think we were able to improve the car so that arriving at Spa the car was better than it was in Hungary. Since then, we’ve just tried again to improve. There’s new bits coming every race weekend, even though sometimes it’s a very small package, but even so, we’re pushing very hard, trying to improve the car.
“I’m sure the others do the same but it seems that we’ve had lots of good parts coming lately and making the car quicker. Also, I think there’s a factor of you understanding the car more than at the beginning of the season so you are able to react quicker, change the setup in the right manner. Obviously, there’s not so much time available. If you look on Friday, you have one chance overnight to make a change, and I think we got better as a team in that regard to get closer to 100 percent on Saturday morning already, and then benefit throughout the weekend.”