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Vettel inspired by Raikkonen's epic comeback

November 15, 2010 14:47 IST

Sebastian Vettel cocooned himself from distraction, took inspiration from Kimi Raikkonen's astonishing 2007 title comeback and then shed tears of joy on becoming Formula One's youngest champion on Sunday.

"This morning I got up and tried not to think about anything, tried to avoid contact with people too much, just try to do my own thing," said the 23-year-old German, soaked in champagne and struggling to contain his emotions.

"We have only led this championship once and when it mattered. I am speechless."

Vettel had started the last race of the season 15 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the favourite to become the youngest triple champion, and eight behind his own Australian team mate Mark Webber.

He knew he had to win and, recalling Raikkonen's incredible comeback for Ferrari from 17 points down with two races remaining, hope for the best.

"I didn't know anything until I crossed the chequered flag," he said as the Red Bull team celebrated a title double after their constructors' championship success in Brazil last weekend.

Sebastian Vettel"The last 10 laps I was wondering as my race engineer, every lap, was trying to give some advice and trying to help me carry the car home. I was thinking 'Why is this guy nervous? We must be in a bloody good position.

"Crossing the line he came on the radio very silently and said 'It is looking good, but we have to wait until the cars finish.'

"I was thinking 'what does he mean?' and I hadn't seen the screens. I just wanted to make sure, not get any distraction, just focus on myself. Then he came on the radio and screams at me that we have won the World Championship."


Team principal Christian Horner filled the airwaves with equal jubilation after holding his breath for the last few laps.

Vettel, who has set a string of records since he arrived in Formula One as a fresh-faced teenager, cried through his visor. Then, out of the car, he talked and talked.

He mentioned Red Bull, engineers, mechanics, the factory workers, friends in his home town of Heppenheim.

"I don't know what to say. Surely I will find some reasons to keep on talking forever. It is unbelievable," he said.

"Yesterday I went to bed and kept thinking about the race and what might happen and had some good imaginations and always a good feeling for some reason. But then I thought 'Now you have to sleep, you have to forget and just fall asleep.'

"Finally it worked. Took a while and I woke up and felt good but it was extremely tough today to keep the head cool."

Appearing on the podium flanked by the previous two champions, Britain's Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, Vettel asked them: "How did it feel, was it also that strange?"

He said: "I guess it will sink in when I finally go to sleep but I think we will have daylight before that happens."

Growing up in the era of Michael Schumacher, the seven times world champion who ended his comeback season with a first lap crash on Sunday, Vettel is steeped in Formula One.

He watched as a kid and has a strong sense of its history.

"We have one guy in the team who knows all the world champions every year since 1950. Just ask him the year and he gives you the World Champion," said the latest champion.

"To be on that list now with drivers like (Ayrton) Senna, Michael (Schumacher), those two guys, I mean I don't know," he said before faltering, his lips quivering with emotion.

"I was actually thinking about Kimi's situation today," he added. "Like Kimi or not -- some people do, some people don't -- I think it was a little bit of a similar situation.

"Obviously what he achieved three years ago was very special. I think most of us have been there and no-one thought it was possible. He proved us wrong but circumstances were special, same as today."

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