When the ADAC GT Masters gets its new season under way on the weekend of 26th - 28th April in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, a newcomer to the series, Fabian Vettel (20, Germany), younger brother of four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (31, Germany) will be the centre of attention. Fabian will race a Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by MANN-FILTER Team HTP. Young Vettel made a promising debut in the series during official pre-season testing in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben on Monday and Tuesday when he finished fifth overall and was the best-placed driver in a Mercedes-AMG along with team-mate Philip Ellis (26, GB). In interview, Fabian tells us why he finds the ADAC GT Masters so interesting and what goals he has set himself for his first season.
Fabian Vettel, you caused everyone to sit up and take notice at the start of the week during official ADAC GT Masters testing by posting fast lap times. How would you rate your performance?
Vettel: "It's never easy to see where you stand when testing. You don't know to what extent other teams are showing their hands. It won't be until the first qualifying session that we'll really get to see how the cookie crumbles. We've still got a bit of final sorting to do. There's a lot for me to learn and that's my main focus."
What made you decide to line up in the ADAC GT Masters in 2019?
"It was a logical step for us to take. My goal is to race in GT3. If you want to prove you can hack it in GT3 then you have to take part in the ADAC GT Masters. You can't miss it out. You get to see exactly where you stand as a racing driver in this evenly matched, top-class field, so we said to ourselves, let's give it a try!"
What makes the series so interesting for you?
"The tremendously competitive nature of the field with famous drivers and teams, a huge variety of different brands, amazing racing cars, exciting races and an attractive overall package for spectators are what interest me. I'm really looking forward to all these different things, having only ever raced in one-make cup series so far."
Have you taken much of an interest in the ADAC GT Masters in previous years?
"Absolutely! I've watched the races on TV or as livestream whenever possible."
What's the biggest challenge you will face in your first season and what will be the most important lesson you'll have to learn?
"It will be my first full GT3 season competing at such a high level, so the major focus will have to be on learning as much as possible as quickly as possible. You have to realize your full potential in such a tremendously competitive field, otherwise you'll go under. Philip and I should certainly be able to benefit from having more experienced team-mates, Maximilian Götz and Indy Dontje. It's all new to me, but I intend to hang on in there and give it 110 percent."
How well do you already know MANN-FILTER Team HTP, the Mercedes AMG GT3 and your new team-mate, Philip Ellis?
"Everyone knows HTP Motorsport and the outfit's yellow-green 'mambas' really stand out, for sure! I got accustomed to driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3 during test outings and in the VLN season opener. I managed just fine. I really like the car and really feel at home in the team. I know Philip from contesting the 2017 season in the Audi Sport TT Cup. He's a super guy. We get along great, and he showed that he can be fast with his race win at the start of the ADAC GT Masters season at Oschersleben in 2018."
Do you feel under any pressure, racing for HTP, who won the team title last year?
"No, not really. I have to focus on myself and make sure that I do a good job. Obviously, I know that the team and the car were championship contenders last year, but I don't really think about it. It's just there in the back of my mind."
Are you already familiar with every circuit on the calendar?
"Yes, apart from Most and the Sachsenring, but that doesn't worry me. I'll take a good look the tracks I don't know beforehand and carefully study lots of onboard recordings. I can normally soon get to learn a new racetrack, so I don't see any problems."
Are there any races that you are particularly looking forward to?
"Hockenheim. It's my home race. I live just over half an hour away. It's where I drove for the very first time, in the car park. I know the track and the people who work there really well."
What goals have you set yourself for the season and what are your expectations?
"To learn as much as possible, improve as the season progresses, and, of course, be a front runner. However, we won't really see where I stand in relation to the others until after a few races."
What did your brother say when you told him that you would be contesting the ADAC GT Masters in a Mercedes-AMG of all things!?
"Not much. It's my business at the end of the day, just like he has his own stuff to take care of. The ADAC GT Masters and Formula 1 are very different. Sebastian is happy for me. He gave me some advice and said that if I got the chance, I should grab it and do my very best! At the end of the day, it's performance that counts, and if I'm doing well, then it doesn't matter whose car I'm in."