Germany's only other title-winner was two years older than Vettel when he lifted the laurels for the first time – but Vettel suggests the present era is a tougher one in which to repeat his success than that in which Schumacher swept to glory after glory.
“Ten years ago I watched F1 on a Sunday and fell asleep,” he quipped. “Michael was winning everything! From the inside and probably the outside this season was very exciting, with five guys in it almost to the end – four to the final race. The cars are so close, separated by hundredths of a second. It was not easy to be top this season.”
That much is indisputable, and Vettel had to overcome various incidences of misfortune and adversity along the way – some admittedly of his own making – in order to end up where he did, displaying an indomitable spirit and keen determination to reach his goals, despite Lady Luck at times seeming to forget that he even existed with one reliability issue after another plaguing his RB6. That he was regarded as a rank outsider heading into Abu Dhabi and yet still prevailed speaks volumes.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has told Austrian television station ORG
that 'he will be world champion a few times more, provided he is sitting in the right car…and we will do our best to give that car to him' – but whilst the Austrian energy drinks magnate and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner are evidently eager to keep hold of their young protégé, Vettel himself offers no cast-iron assurances as to what the long-term future holds.
“Ferrari and Mercedes represent the history, the present and certainly the future of F1,” he mused. “Each driver dreams of Ferrari or Mercedes, but to drive for these teams depends on a number of factors. Everything has to fall into place – to be a myth isn't sufficient. All that is a long way off for me...
“The past couple of months have been a unique experience and I have experienced great moments, which I will never forget, but there were also some difficult situations. I am very proud of what we have achieved – it's a great moment for me and for the whole team.
“I'm looking forward to some relaxing moments now, in order to realise what's just happened. It is of course now the time to enjoy the success, but we will soon be facing new challenges and the aim for next year is to defend both titles. There is lots to do, but I'm convinced that we will once again be among the best teams competing.
“I am very happy with this team; we're like a big family, and everyone has fun and is dedicated to what they are doing – only when it's like this is it possible to achieve at such a high level. Without the support I received from the Red Bull Junior Programme, I would not be sitting here today as a world champion.”