SAO PAULO: Sebastian Vettel was not sure if he should laugh or cry on Sunday after becoming Formula One’s youngest triple world champion by finishing a dogged sixth in the rain-lashed Brazilian Grand Prix.
He struggled with his emotions and wept on his final lap as his Red Bull chief screamed congratulations at him on the team radio, the 25-year-old German having climbed through the field after a first-lap collision with Bruno Senna’s Williams. After some wild celebrations on the pit wall, and with a mass of his team-mates in the cramped Interlagos garages, he said, “It is difficult to imagine what goes through my head now even for myself. I am full of adrenaline and if you poke me now I wouldn’t feel it. It was such an incredible race. I was lucky no-one hit me at the M5, but the car was damaged and we lost a lot of speed, especially when it dried up. Fortunately it started to rain again and I felt so much happier.”
Webber says Vettel in class of own
Meanwhile, teammate Mark Webber said Vettel is now in ‘a club of his own’.
Webber came in fourth but said the 25-year-old German had achieved something ‘very, very special’ after claiming his third straight title by finishing sixth in a wild and rain-hit race at Interlagos.
“He’s in a club on his own now,” said Webber. “Very, very special to do it three times in a row. Last year was a little more straightforward, but this year was a bit more difficult, as was 2010. So I congratulate him, it’s a great effort.”
Vettel has now set a series of records. In 2010, he became the youngest champion at the age of 23 and 135 days. He was also the youngest driver to score a point when he came eighth in the United States Grand Prix on his debut for BMW-Sauber in 2007.
In 2008, his win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix at Monza from pole position in a winless Toro Rosso made him the youngest driver to start on pole (21 years and 72 days) and the youngest ever winner (21 years and 73 days).
He is also the youngest triple world champion.
Curtains on Schumi’s career
Michael Schumacher bade an emotional farewell to Formula One after finishing seventh in Brazil.
After 21 years, seven drivers’ championship triumphs and 91 victories, the 43-year-old recovered from an early puncture to score points in his final outing with the Mercedes team. In an incident-packed race, Schumacher fell to the back of the field in the opening laps but climbed to sixth before being passed by title-bound fellow-German, and good friend, Vettel.
“I think it’s a nice ending,” he said. “I’m finishing off and he’s (Vettel) clinching his third title. I’m very proud of him, he’s a good friend of mine. My emotions are under control at the moment, maybe later having a drink and hugging the mechanics it’ll become more sentimental but I’m looking forward to life after Formula One now. It’s been a pretty big challenge in this race because obviously I had the puncture and was at the back again… It took some memories back to 2006 when the same thing happened to me. Luckily I have the nature of not giving up and always trying to find a solution, and it worked out. In a way it does remind me of 2003 when I had a similar struggle and just managed by a point to win the championship.”
Alonso laments rough justice
Fernando Alonso insisted that his campaign had been undermined at Spa, when he was shunted by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, and at Suzuka when Vettel’s alleged blocking tactics in qualifying resulted in only a reprimand for the German, who went on to win that race.
“The championship was not lost here,” said two-time champion Alonso. “The championship was lost when Grosjean flew over my head or when Vettel surprisingly only got a reprimand after qualifying in Japan. We missed a little bit of performance through lack of ideas but we enjoyed it and fought until the end. We have to feel proud. We finished second today but it just wasn’t enough.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari gatecrashed Vettel’s triple world title party by insisting that Alonso should have been crowned champion.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Alonso paid a heavy price for first lap exits in Belgium and Japan.
“We are proud of Fernando,” Domenicali told www.autosport.com. “But we are very disappointed because the one who deserved this championship was really him. It is a shame because, after such a long season that we really fight in all conditions, we raced 18 races and not 20 — and being second by three points is not a lot.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2012.