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Page last updated at 04:16 GMT, Saturday, 26 March 2011

F1 titles are reason I'm alive, says Sebastian Vettel

Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, 25-27 March
Qualifying: Saturday 26 March 0500-0730 on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button, online and 5 live sports extra
Race: Sunday 27 March 0600-0900 on BBC One, Red Button, online and Radio 5 live sports extra

F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel

Vettel keeps F1 trophy in kitchen

World champion Sebastian Vettel says winning the Formula 1 title is his reason for living.

The 23-year-old Red Bull driver begins his title defence in Australia on Sunday and he has set his sights on winning many more championships.

"Winning the championship still is and always has been the greatest thing I can achieve in my life," he said in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport.

"If there's a reason why I'm alive it's that I want to win the championship."

The German clinched the title with victory in the final race of last season in Abu Dhabi, overhauling a 15-point deficit to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso after the Italian team made a strategic mistake that left the Spaniard stuck down the field.

"It's very difficult from one minute to the other, crossing the line," Vettel said in the interview.

"People see you as the world champion but it takes more time inside you to understand what has happened.

"It calms you down a lot as even if you believe in yourself, I have proven to myself I can do it and that is a very nice feeling.

The target is to have the trophy in your place for such a long time that the carpet fades

Sebastian Vettel

"I've climbed the mountain, reached the peak but now I start from the bottom again.

"I have the number one of my car but it doesn't make me two or three tenths quicker so I still need to push like mad.

"We start from zero points. You need the package to be able to fight for the title again and so the target is there again naturally."

Vettel has made it clear that racking up statistics - poles, victories, fastest laps - is important to him and that has led to speculation that he wants to overhaul the record 91 victories and seven titles held by his compatriot and friend Michael Schumacher.

He has never directly said that is his target, but he comes close in the BBC interview.

Asked whether that was his ambition, Vettel said: "I wouldn't mind, but to compare any driver with Michael, you have to be very careful.

"It's a long way, it's very hard and you need to be open to learn and it would be wrong to start the season and say let's do exactly the same as last year. You need to work on yourself and become faster and better."

Vettel said the official world championship trophy, which he keeps in his house, means a great deal to him.

"I've shown the trophy to the most important people around me and it makes you very proud," he said.

Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull at the Australian Grand Prix
Vettel has set his sights on a second consecutive title

"Some people say it's just a stupid trophy but for me it means a lot.

"It's a special trophy and every day I pass by and have a look, it still feels special to be part of that history.

"It's not in a popular place - it is in the kitchen but at least I get to see it everyday.

"I get to keep it for one year and then I might have to give it back but I hope not.

"Obviously the target is to beat Michael's record because I heard some rumours that where he kept it in his place you can see the difference in colour as if you have an old carpet lying on the floor - obviously where the trophy is the sunlight cannot hit the ground.

"The target is to have the trophy in your place for such a long time that it (the carpet) fades."

And he cast his mind back to the moments and days after winning the title and relived what it was like for the reality of being world champion to sink in.

"I got this advice from Jenson (Button) actually in the press conference (after the race), he said now you will be flat out answering questions but think about the first moment you have for yourself," Vettel said.

"I didn't sleep Sunday to Monday, I was on the plane and then I was just dead and fell asleep and we had lots of things to do.

"But when I came back to Abu Dhabi for the test (at the end of the week) I had a day off and I did have some fun in the desert with a couple of friends and had a moment to myself.

"So to answer your question in the middle of nowhere in the desert, finally, it's those little moments and minutes when you just smile continuously.

"I've seen the race. I took a while to really see the whole race but I can see why people were so thrilled.

"It was quite tense because until the end you didn't know if it would last or not.

"The Ferrari boys were not as happy as we were obviously. I was more nervous watching the race afterwards than being involved in the race...

"It takes a bit of time to sink in and then we you go to pick up the trophy in Monaco then you really start to believe.

"Then around Christmas you start to smile about how the dream came true."

Jake Humphrey's interview with Sebastian Vettel will be broadcast in the pre-race show, which starts at 0600 BST on BBC One on Sunday 27 March

Sebastian Vettel

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 90 seconds (UK users only)

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see also
Australian GP qualifying as it happened
26 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Ferrari will improve, says Alonso
26 Mar 11 |  Formula One
McLaren fight back to the front
25 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel commits future to Red Bull
14 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel sets sights on F1 records
21 Mar 11 |  Formula 1

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