Sebastian Vettel became the youngest world champion in Formula One history
after clinching victory in the final race of the season at Abu Dhabi as Red Bull
Racing made it a championship double.
The 23-year-old was third in the
standings but led from pole and drove a near faultless race en route to a first
championship victory a week after Red Bull claimed the constructors' title.
"I'm speechless," Vettel said. "I don't know what you are supposed to say in
these moments, it has been an incredibly tough season for myself and all of us,
physically and mentally. We always kept believing in ourselves - no matter what
people said - in the team and in our car."
"I tried to avoid contact with
people and just tried to do my own thing. I knew all I could try to do was win
this race and do my best. We only led this Championship once this season, but it
was when it mattered."
Sebastian Vettel said he did not know he had won the world championship
until he crossed the line at the end of the race in Abu Dhabi.
honest, I didn't know anything until I passed the chequered flag. I was
wondering, because my race engineer Rocky was trying to give me advice every lap
to help me carry the car home and I was thinking 'Why's this guy so nervous, we
must be in a bloody good position!' Then crossing the line he came on the radio
and very silently said 'it's looking good, we have to wait until all the cars
finish'. I was thinking 'what does he mean,' as I hadn't seen the screens - I
just wanted to make sure I didn't get any distractions during the race and
focused on myself."
Christian Horner, Team Principal: "It's an
unbelievable outcome. The first time Sebastian has led the Championship is at
the last race of the year, but arguably that's the only time you need to lead
it. We mustn't forget Mark in all this and what an incredible job he's done this
year. He's driven superbly well, he's won four grand prix victories and has
taken the Championship to the final race."
Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber
Spaniard Alonso was favorite for the title before the
race but then made a big mistake, by the team's own admission, when choosing the
strategy regarding when to make the one compulsory pit stop. Having started
behind pole man Vettel, from third place, Alonso immediately lost a place to
McLaren driver Button. On the very first lap, the Safety Car came out after
Schumacher spun and was hit hard by Liuzzi. A few drivers, including Nico
Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov immediately came in for a tire change, which would
prove very significant later. Vettel was out in the lead, pursued by Hamilton,
Button and Alonso, with Webber fifth.
Having made contact with a wall
hard enough to throw sparks up from his right rear wheel, Webber in the Red Bull
was the first to make a "planned" stop on lap 11. However, this was really not
the ideal time. Nevertheless, Ferrari took the decision to bring Alonso in on
lap 15 to cover his closest rival Webber for the title. Overtaking at this track
is very difficult and while the the Ferrari man moved up the order passing the
much slower cars, he butted up against Renault driver Petrov, finishing seventh,
which was only enough for runner-up position in the final standings.
Lewis Hamilton finished second in the race and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button
completed the final podium of the season.
The 2011 season will start in Bahrain on March 11-13.