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â€¢ ‘I’m still hungry and getting upset when other people beat me’
â€¢ Mark Webber set to give Red Bull team-mate tough competition
Sebastian Vettel looked less comfortable than his Australian team-mate Mark Webber when Red Bull put on a beach barbecue for the pair here on Wednesday.
He looked less comfortable still when he was asked as double world champion whether he considered himself to be one of the sport’s best ever drivers, which is where many sound judges are now placing him.
“It’s a bit uncomfortable talking about yourself. There are some drivers I consider to be to true greats and it’s obviously an honour when you hear people talking about you in that way,” he said.
“On my list of great drivers there is Michael [Schumacher]. Ayrton [Senna] I think was a great driver. Jochen Rindt, Jim Clark. That’s great company to be in.”
If Vettel was reluctant to admit himself to the pantheon Webber did it for him. He said: “Any double world champion is held in very, very high regard.
“There’s a lot of single world champions but when you do the double it’s more than a double. It becomes exponential. Winning a championship is special but to win two is a real feather in his cap and like Fernando [Alonso] and Michael [Schumacher] we have a few multiple champions.
“Kimi [Raikkonen], Jenson [Button] and Lewis [Hamilton] have won the world title as well but when you win a couple it’s very impressive. He’s on a high level.”
Webber, who is looking to end a sequence of disappointing results at his home race here on Sunday, added: “It was an extremely close battle in 2010 for all of us. It went Seb’s way. He got the world title. And then last year there was no real battle, to be honest. Seb closed the championship out very early.”
But Vettel was less bashful when it came to talking about his ambitions for the new season. “We are all collecting stuff and I don’t mind collecting trophies,” he said, grinning.
But he still has not found a proper place for the prizes marking his 21 victories and two world titles. “I’m working on that. It’s a very nice problem to have. At the moment they are just on the side in the living room.”
So where does he keep his championship trophies? “On the kitchen table, at the moment. Not with the Corn Flakes. I’m German. It has to be precise. You can’t mix the Corn Flakes with the world championship trophy.”
Of the six world champions on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, Vettel and Alonso have won it twice and Schumacher seven times. Only Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio have won three successive championships.
Vettel, 24, added: “The possibility of winning three titles is not keeping me awake at night. Winning the first world championship was a relief because you have proven to yourself that you can do it, which is more important than anything else. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t care what happens next.
“Nothing has changed. I’m still hungry and getting upset when there are other people beating me, which is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with losing, it’s how you come back.
“It would be immature to believe that nothing will go wrong. I should be smart enough to know that it will not always go my way. Even last season we had races where we could and should have done better. That’s life, in a way.”
Vettel starts as favourite for this year’s championship but is expected to face a more resolute challenge from Webber, 35, who last season struggled with tyres and also with the disappointment of coming so close the year before, in what could realistically be viewed as his last chance of winning the title.