NUERBURGRING, Germany (Reuters) - The Nuerburgring is famous for its 21-kilometre long Nordschleife circuit and although Sunday’s German Grand Prix will be raced on the much shorter new track, world champion Sebastian Vettel is in for the long haul.
The German Red Bull driver, who leads the standings as he bids for a fourth straight Formula One title, was beaten to pole position by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes but believes his home race is far from decided.
“We have 60 laps, it is a long grand prix, a lot of things can happen here so I don’t think the race gets decided straight away so I‘m really looking after myself first of all,” the 26-year-old told a news conference on Saturday.
“I think generally you don’t have to start from pole position to win races. I think we had good races also from other positions.”
Backing Vettel up is the fact that Hamilton won here the last time F1 came to this part of rural western Germany in 2011 when Mark Webber took pole.
However, Webber triumphed in 2009 from the front of the Nuerburgring grid for his first race win and Vettel led from lights to flag in Canada last month.
Nevertheless the steely German, who leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by 21 points after eight of 19 races, expects little else but victory having been denied by a gearbox problem at the British Grand Prix last weekend.
“I think we’ve made some progress and have all the confidence tomorrow,” he said, acknowledging that he suffered in the first sector of the track during qualifying, partly because of the wind.
“In terms of strategy, I think we have a rough idea, it all depends on tyres and tyre wear.”
Tyres have been the talk of the paddock after blow-outs at Silverstone prompted Pirelli to alter their supply for this race with drivers threatening a boycott if explosions happen again.
Vettel said the drivers could still get a race abandoned even when on the track.
“First of all, I‘m confident that we won’t have any problems,” he said.
“(Race director) Charlie (Whiting) can hear us when we are talking on the radio. It’s not the first time he’s listening to us. He’s aware of the situation.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was a little less confident than Vettel when it came to who might dominate on Sunday, with Ferrari taking a gamble by not fighting for pole and starting the race instead on the longer-lasting medium tyres.
“(Vettel) is certainly very relaxed, he’s in reasonable shape but the Mercedes is quick,” Horner told Sky.
“Ferrari have taken an interesting strategy as well which is effectively running the race in reverse tomorrow so that’s going to be interesting as well.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin