If you are an American Formula 1 fan and were up in time Sunday morning, you may have witnessed a rare interview broadcast for the first time on television. NBCSN's Will Buxton interviewed the last American to win the F1 series' drivers World Championship alongside the four-time World Championship driver and reigning title holder, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. Later on, the interview also included Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner.
Will Buxton, who is listed as a "Formula 1 Reporter," according to the NBC Sports Group, but is known by viewers as the F1 "pit reporter," sat down with the 1978 Formula 1 World Champion racer, Mario Andretti alongside the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 F1 World Champion, Sebastian Vettel.
During the recorded broadcast, called "Vettel and Andretti: One on One," Mr. Buxton asked over a dozen questions of these racers ranging from what it takes to be a champion to if they ever felt fear when they got in the car, to what they would each like to ask one another.
Here are a couple of notable quotes from the conversation:
Andretti to Vettel: "I'd hate like hell to be racing against you."
When asked about whether, like Andretti, he'd like to try another form of racing besides F1, Sebastian Vettel responded: "Rallying, to be honest, has a certain interest. It's fun going sideways." Going sideways breaks the rules a bit, he said, because in Formula 1 going sideways costs time that the driver cannot afford to lose.
The interview was broadcast in anticipation of the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, scheduled for later this month. As the official host of COTA, Mr. Andretti spoke highly of the track and said that "Formula 1 finally has a solid home in the U.S." Noting that Austin was the "perfect host city," he said that the whole package of the track and the area supporting the race is a "real winner down there."
For his part, the current World Champion called driving the track in 2012 "quite a challenge," that he found it, speaking with his German accent, "difficult to find into the rhythm." He noted there is "quite a steep hill up to the first corner, and then the first sector opened up with very high speed corners getting a little bit tighter, a little bit tighter..." He described the second part of the track as "a little bit slower in terms of speed," that the "asphalt of the track was still quite new" in 2012, "making it slippery and hard to get grip." He said, "The cars were sliding quite a lot, but it was good fun, definitely." He looks forward to racing there again, not in small part because of how the city and fans embraced Formula 1 last year.
Buxton asked Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner about the value of America to Formula 1: "It's hugely important," Mr. Horner said. "Formula 1 without America is not a true world championship." He said that the facility was a good track to work at and also noted how the fans came out and supported the event.
It will be the second time COTA has hosted the world's most popular motor racing series with a U.S. Grand Prix. This year's race, which is the penultimate event on the 2013 Formula 1 calendar, is scheduled for November 17 and will be broadcast live on NBC.
NBC posted clips from the "Vettel and Andretti: One on One" interview online on Monday; they are currently viewable here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. is the author of several books and, with a historic racer, is currently working on a new book about racing. Check out her occasional ponderings about the sport at her blog, Motor Sport Muse.