Vettel open to more off-road racing after ice debut

Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel says he’s looking forward to more off-road competitions in the future following his ice racing debut at the Race of Champions.

Vettel was beaten by World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Loeb last Sunday in the final of the first Race of Champions to be held on snow and ice, held on a course across a beach and the frozen Baltic Sea in northern Sweden.

The Aston Martin F1 driver initially struggled on Saturday, losing three of his four races as Team Germany was eliminated in the Nations Cup quarter-finals, but was more competitive in the individual Champion of Champions event.

He won duels in a Polaris buggy, RX Supercar Lite and an electric rallycross car en route to the final, losing 3-1 to Loeb but narrowly overtaking the nine-time WRC champion in his last run in the Polaris.

When asked if he would consider more off-road events in the future, Vettel admitted he has “a lot of catching up to do” but was excited by the discipline.

“Of course you saw that I was still missing a bit,” said Vettel. “But I think I’m enjoying it a lot.

“I’ve always enjoyed seeing what they do. It’s a different discipline, so you can still have fun with a car, but there are just a lot of differences.

“But it’s fascinating, we also talk over lunch to understand a bit more, you don’t just sit in the car and drive.

“Similar to Formula 1 or any other category, there is a lot of work behind the scenes, preparing the notes and gathering all the information that you can get, just as we prepare for the race and the analysis afterwards.

“The sport is evolving and it’s not just about driving, it’s also a challenge. So it sure isn’t easy to just jump in and be very good at it.

“It takes time and experience, but if someone is willing to give me a chance and has a lot of time, I’m happy to look at it.

“I think it’s something that’s very satisfying as a driver to be able to play with the car and have more latitude.

“Normally, when the car gets out, you correct it immediately and you’ve lost some time. I find a lot more gray here. You are sideways, maybe the timing is a bit off, but you can correct it.

Race Of Champions Ice + Snow 4 6/2/22

“Of course you have to go into that really small window to be perfect. And you’ve seen the difference! But it’s definitely something I enjoy.”

Vettel has long been a Race of Champions enthusiast and last weekend was no exception as he made the most of his dramatic change of scene.

Away from the track, he caused a stir every morning from Thursday to Sunday with solo runs in a t-shirt and shorts in sub-zero temperatures, volunteered to swim in the sea when the organizers cut a hole in the ice, and begged for a ride with Stig Blomqvist in the Audi S1 ​​​​Quattro of the WRC legend.

But changing the face of competition was something he clearly welcomed from a competitive standpoint as well.

“It’s something I’m definitely not used to from my driving style,” said Vettel.

“Usually when the car goes sideways I tried to correct it as quickly as possible and straighten it out again, which isn’t the quickest way here.

“It’s very exciting and I think it’s a great place in the world. It was a lot of work, the weather really didn’t help this weekend and didn’t make the situation any easier, but the people were great.

Sebastian Vettel Rx2e

“Having missed the Race of Champions for the last two years and the pandemic being all over the world it has been great to be back and also great to have a sense of normalcy as much as possible.

“It was a very, very great comeback and I would really love to come back to a place like this on snow and ice.

“To be with Fredrick’s pride and to be on home soil is obviously special, but I think it was definitely racing against each other on the open seas.

“It was fantastic for us to enjoy the different cars and also for the spectators, even though they had some wind on their faces today!

“But they seemed very happy and ready for it, so I think it was very good.”

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