Treble winner Vettel insists on clean slate

Sebastian Vettel may be the youngest treble winner in Formula 1 history but the 25-year-old German insists he's approaching the new season like he would any other.

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull

There was a moment at the launch of Red Bull's latest challenger for this season that had a number of onlookers thinking 'Oh my God!', but which merely underlined the colourful character of Sebastian Vettel.

When you consider Vettel is German and drives for an Austrian-owned team based in England, there was every possibility for the quip he conjured to have been lost in translation and backfire badly.

If you are old enough to recall one of the more memorable scenes from hit BBC comedy 'Fawlty Towers' in which eponymous owner Basil ham-fistedly tries to avoid mentioning "the war" to a group of Germans, then you get the idea.

As Vettel has won the Formula One title for the last three years, he was unwittingly asked about his plans this year for "world domination".

Quick as a flash, and regardless of his audience - both in front of him at a warehouse within walking distance of the team's factory in Milton Keynes and the thousands watching online - Vettel smiled and said: "World domination? I'm German, but I didn't say that...and I have no moustache!"

Appreciating the fact Vettel loves English comedies, and no doubt he has, like many of us, watched 'The Germans' sketch from Fawlty Towers many times, it was a joke that brought the house down.

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A few minutes later the 25-year-old did so again, just at the moment when launch host Martin Brundle informed the crowd it was time for questions to switch from English to German.

Vettel raised his little finger, in reference to Dr Evil from the Austin Powers movies, and said: "Now we're making our secret plans!"

It was proof, if it were needed, in an era when drivers have become more sanitised with their views for fear of their every word being dissected and analysed, Vettel is happy to go against that particular grain.

But then Vettel is also intensely private, nothing untoward there you may think given the very public world in which he resides as F1 flits from country to country for 10 months of the year.

However, given the multi-media domain these days, not a single quote appeared from Vettel, nor was a single photo snapped of him from a few days after his third title triumph in Brazil at the end of November until his appearance at the launch in early February.

Unlike many drivers who tweeted photos of themselves up a mountain or on a beach throughout December and January, Vettel revealed he stayed at home and slept in his own bed for 35 consecutive nights, a rarity in F1 terms.

And what did he do with all that spare time on his hands? DIY!

Given his father is a carpenter, it has been suggested Vettel built himself a new trophy cabinet over the winter, something he refused to confirm.

It would not be a surprise, though, if that were the case given he has previously mentioned the clutter his mounting silverware has created, and there is every prospect the collection will be added to this year.

Given the stability in the regulations between last year and the coming campaign, without doubt Red Bull's defence of their realm will be vigorous, with Vettel the vanguard in his pursuit of further cementing his place in F1 folklore.

Only Vettel, and the legends that are Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, have won three titles in a row. Four is very much in his sights.

Vettel, however, is adamant what has gone before counts for nothing when the lights go out on the new season which begins in Melbourne on March 17.

"It all starts again from zero. We've all got the same chances in what will be a tough year again with a lot of races," said Vettel.

"So I'm just looking ahead. I'm not looking back on past races because I am convinced it doesn't give you a head start or an advantage.

"I expect it to be at least as tight as last year. The regulations haven't really changed so it's difficult to make up a lot of ground.

"Equally, if you are at the front, it's difficult to find something else, so at some stage I think it will get even closer at the top, therefore everyone is in the hunt.

"We saw it last year with Williams winning in Barcelona, not because they were lucky, but because they were fast."

Team-mate Mark Webber still believes he can become champion, despite fighting demons in his own team in the form of advisor Helmut Marko, who serves as owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man.

Marko disparagingly claimed, in Red Bull's own in-house magazine of all places, Webber does not possess the mental strength to maintain a title challenge.

Webber's retort was that Marko "has his own agenda", and a defiant assertion that at the age of 37, as he will be at the end of August, he can still become a champion.

"I do believe I can have a crack at the championship again this year, as I have done in previous seasons," insisted Webber.

"That is my goal and what I think about each day when I get up, and I'm working hard with the team on doing that.

"They know I need 100 per cent support. You cannot win a world title with only 90, you need 100, and we're going into this season with this in place, and I'm comfortable with that."

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