Sebastian Vettel becomes youngest double F1 champion
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel wraps up the 2011 world championship title with four races to spare
Sebastian Vettel replaced Fernando Alonso as the youngest-ever Formula 1 double world champion after finishing third at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.
The 24-year-old Red Bull driver, who has dominated the season with 12 poles and nine race wins, needed just one point to become the ninth driver to achieve back-to-back glory with four races to spare.
Struggling to find the words to express his feelings, Vettel said: “It is difficult to know where to start. Obviously it is such a long year and we had a fantastic year, and the best thing is it is not over yet.
“A strong result again today to win the championship here, it’s fantastic. There are so many things you want to say in this moment but it’s hard to remember all of them, so I am just so thankful to everyone in the team.
“We have so many people here at the track and at Milton Keynes, day in and day out, not only Friday, but also Saturday and Sunday and Monday to Friday, every day pushing hard, fighting hard for points and fighting for the championship.
“We find ourselves in a very strong position and it is great to achieve the goal we set ourselves already now.”
Paying tribute to the people who have helped him achieve his success in F1, Vettel added: “There are so many people. It is hard to name them all, but one person that really stands out this year is the person I spend most of my time with, he is my trainer Tommy Parmakoski, and regards to his family in Finland.
“They have a great son with a great heart. He was the first one who stopped me from thinking about things not in our control.”
In the last two decades, only three other drivers have achieved double success, Fernando Alonso (2005-2006), Michael Schumacher (1994-1995 and 2000-2004), Mika Hakkinen (1998-1999).
Vettel continues to blaze a trail through F1, comparable to that of his compatriot Michael Schumacher, with the young German keen to collect every record along the way – most of which were previously held by Schumacher.
He has come a long way since his 2007 debut with BMW-Sauber as stand-in for Robert Kubica at Indianapolis and to put his 2011 dominance into perspective, he is the only driver to have started and completed all 15 races so far this season.
Indeed, should Vettel win the title in 2012, he would achieve yet another remarkable feat, becoming only the third driver in the sport’s history to win three back-to-back titles after Juan Manuel Fangio (1954-1956), and Michael Schuamacher (2000-2003).