Sebastian Vettel staggered into an ocean of champagne and a mass of his Red Bull team’s delirious mechanics on Sunday evening - still wondering if he had really won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and with it the drivers’ world championship.After a rollercoaster season, the 23-year-old’s victory in the title showdown race at the Yas Marina Circuit was still proving beyond his comprehension hours after a stirring race that he won ahead of the chasing McLaren of Briton Lewis Hamilton.
“I still cannot believe it,” he said. “How does it feel? Everyone asks me. It feels good. No, actually it feels fantastic. But I still don’t know what to say, what is it - what does it all mean?”
Vettel’s win made him the youngest champion in Formula One history, a record he took from Hamilton, and also only the second German to lift the title in succession to his boyhood hero, Michael Schumacher.
“I know things now, that I am on the same level as these other guys - Lewis and Jenson, but also others like (Ayrton) Senna and Michael,” Vettel said.
“But I did not know what was happening in the race. “To be honest - I did not know anything. They did not tell me. I wondered.
Then in the last 10 laps, my engineer Rocky (Guillaume Rocquelin) was giving me advice to help me get the car home.m “I wondered why he was so nervous. I thought we must be in a good position and he just said ‘it’s looking good’!
“To be honest, I didn’t know what he meant. I just focused on myself, kept racing, and they came on the radio and screamed that ‘we have won the world championship’ and then it was all a bit crazy.”
A tearful Vettel let his emotions out during his slowing down lap after the race and again when the German national anthem was played while he stood on top of the podium. “I am a bit speechless to be honest, I don’t know what you’re supposed to say in this moment,” he said afterwards.
“It is unbelievable. I went to bed and kept thinking about the race, about what might happen. I had some good imaginations and a good feeling.”
Vettel reflected on his up and down season, during which he won five times, but also cost himself several good results through accidents and reliability problems. But he said he never lost the belief that he could win the championship.
Formula One's youngest world champions
(Reuters) - Red Bull's German driver Sebastian Vettel became Formula One's youngest world champion in Abu Dhabi on Sunday aged 23 years and 135 days.
The following details the sport's youngest champions:
2010 - Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull 23 years and 135 days
2008 - Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 23 and 301 days
2005 - Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 24 and 59 days
1972 - Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil) Lotus 25 and 274 days
1994 - Michael Schumacher (Germany) Benetton 25 and 315 days
1975 - Niki Lauda (Austria) Ferrari 26 and 198 days
1997 - Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) Williams 26 and 201 days
1963 - Jim Clark (Britain) Lotus 27 and 189 days