He might eschew the moniker 'Baby Schumi', but there was more than a touch of the old master to Sebastian Vettel's F1 2010 world title triumph in Abu Dhabi on Sunday – and afterwards, countryman Michael Schumacher was quick to give 'credit' to the sport's new king.
In maintaining his 100 per cent success record around the Yas Marina Street Circuit, Vettel did all he could personally do in his efforts to overcome the odds and clinch the coveted crown on Sunday – and allied to Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber's off-colour weekend, a misguided strategy call from Ferrari and a somewhat inert performance from erstwhile world championship leader Fernando Alonso, it proved enough to achieve what many had forecast as being unlikely in the extreme.
The only time the Heppenheim native had ever led the points standings at the end of a grand prix weekend, it was also the only time that truly mattered, and as he proudly inscribed his name in the history books as F1's youngest-ever world champion at the age of just 23 – 166 days younger than Lewis Hamilton was when he similarly broke the record two years ago – the sport's second German title-winner was warmly congratulated by its first.
“I'm more than happy for him, because we are friends and it has been a tough year for him,” Schumacher – who last lifted the laurels back in 2004 and was arguably fortunate to escape decapitation following an opening lap incident in Abu Dhabi [see separate story – click here
] – is quoted as having said by The Daily Telegraph
“He's had up-and-downs and he has had to go through, probably, more [problems] on the mechanical side than on the driving side, so he really deserves this championship. Well done to him, well done to the team – they all did a great job. My time was a different time from his time. I just feel very happy for him. He is a great driver and he is a fantastic guy, and I think he deserves all the credit.”
Vettel, for his part, has revealed that one of the key inspirations behind his remarkable turnaround at the very last was the example of Kimi Raikkonen, who came back from 17 points down with two races to go – more than 40 points in today's money – to prevail in the 2007 season finale.
“Prior to the race in Abu Dhabi, I was thinking about Kimi's situation,” he is quoted as having said by The Sun
. “Obviously we were in a stronger position in terms of how many points were missing, but I faced a little bit of a similar situation.
“If you know Kimi, you know the one big advantage he has is that he just does his own thing, which was my target all weekend long. What he achieved three years ago was very special because no-one thought it was possible – he proved us wrong, but the circumstances were special, the same as with me.”