x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Vettel: Consistency was key to winning third F1 title

The triple world champion reaffirmed his commitment to Red Bull Racing in the face of speculation linking him with a move to Ferrari for 2014.

Sebastian Vettel reflected on his third successive Formula One world drivers' title, saying: 'every point mattered.' Matthew Lewis / Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel reflected on his third successive Formula One world drivers' title, saying: 'every point mattered.' Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND // On paper, a rain-lashed industrial estate in southern England would not be many people's first choice as a first port of call for a celebration.

But Milton Keynes, 72km north-west of London, is the home of Red Bull Racing and where Sebastian Vettel was yesterday as he flew in from Sao Paulo to meet the team's staff of 550 to celebrate becoming Formula One's youngest triple world champion, as well as the marque's third successive constructors' title.

With the dust having only just settled on Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, where sixth place was enough for the German to claim the title by three points from Fernando Alonso, the 25 year old acknowledged this year's success had been built on consistency, rather than the raw speed that had taken him to his previous two championships, with just five individual race victories.

"This year obviously was closer with the other teams so instead of finishing second, third or fourth, instead you finished fifth or eighth," he said.

"It allows you to look back and say that every point matters and even the times when you are not competitive to win to make sure you score enough points."

There was nothing straightforward about the climax to Vettel's campaign, as in both Abu Dhabi and Brazil, he had to come through from the back of the field to score points that proved crucial in retaining his title.

It gave Vettel an opportunity to disprove a misconception that he could only do well when he started at the front of the field, and could not overtake.

"If you come back from the back of the field, you have to overtake people," he said.

"Last year we always started in a great position and didn't have to overtake so many people then you get criticised for not overtaking, but if there is no one to overtake then what can you do?

"To win from the front or to come through the field is the same thing. You still do the best. Obviously people credit the fact that you have overtaken people to come through the field more than you pulling away [at the front].

"It is a little bit funny to look back now and remember that you were the driver that was not able to overtake. Now after two or three races people have changed their mind."

Vettel reaffirmed his commitment to the team in the face of speculation linking him with a move to Ferrari for 2014.

"I know I owe the success I have had to the guys in the factory, to the guys on the track and everyone involved," he said.

"I think I have said many times that I have not signed for anyone else and I am not keen to sign for anyone else. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

With Red Bull now the dominating force in Formula One, Vettel said maintaining success was not as easy as it sounded.

"The hardest thing is to win after you have won, so winning after winning," he said. "Because you get the attention and the pressure and you are very likely to focus on how to win again rather than focus on the small steps it takes to win in the first place.

"Obviously we won the championship last year after 2010 and won it again this year, so I don't want to praise ourselves but we have done a couple of things right."

The Red Bull staff congregated to listen to speeches from Vettel, his teammate Mark Webber and team principal Christian Horner during a ceremony at the team's factory.

The mechanics looked understandably happy as each member of the team's 550-strong staff have received a £10,000 (Dh58,672) bonus for winning the constructors' crown.

Horner said it was important to recognise the work of all the staff, not just the drivers, and said he rated this season as the hardest of the three championships won by the team.

"The sacrifices that are made, the personal sacrifices, the time that is given up, away from home, away from family and friends, particularly here in Milton Keynes, has been just remarkable," he said.

"What you see on a Sunday afternoon is only a very small percentage of what is involved in a grand prix team and this championship, and a triple championship, would never ever have been imaginable without the commitment and dedication of the staff here."

 

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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