27 November 2012
Three-time champ looks to the future
What do you do when you've just become the youngest-ever three-time F1 world champion at the age of just 25? Sebastian Vettel is letting it sink in first, before setting new targets.
Any driver working his way up the motor sports career ladder has a succession of landmarks that he or she will be aiming for. The ultimate ambition for many is to be F1 world champion. But what do you do when you've not only met that ambition, but exceeded it and gone further than you ever imagined? What's next?
Vettel achieved his dream of becoming champion in 2010 when he was just 23 years, 133 days old - the youngest ever. Now he's become only the third driver in history to win the title three times in a row after Michael Schumacher (2000-2004) and Juan Manuel Fangio (1954-1957).
For a keen student of the history of F1, these are heady heights for Sebastian Vettel: "It's difficult to find the right words," said Vettel when asked about his achievement. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there are only two guys who have done that before.
"I think that one of the great things about F1 is that you can not necessarily compare only yourself but you can compare your time, your era if you like to 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago," he said. "Obviously times have change but I think they will keep changing because that's what we do. I think if you look around the world there are a lot of things that have changed."
Only Schumacher, Fangio and Alain Prost have won more than three titles in their entire career; getting three puts Vettel alongside Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet - and of course, the legendary Ayrton Senna.
"We are in Sao Paulo here, the place where Ayrton Senna was born and came from and the place where he was buried," said Vettel. "To come here and win the Championship for the third time, I don't really know what to say."
So what's next for Vettel - where does he go from here? "The next challenge?" He thought for a moment. "First of all I want to enjoy now ... The most important thing is to be present and I don't want to get carried away with next year. I'm very happy now and I want to have a good time with the guys."
Perhaps the next obvious target is to set his sight on overhaul Michael Schumacher's record of seven championships in total?
"I don't think I'm commenting on that because it's nonsense!" Vettel said in response to the very idea. "I think that whatever he has achieved in his career is unbelievable. People tend to forget but he was dominant like no other driver ever in F1 during his time.
"Obviously his comeback was a bit different," he said, referring to Schumacher's three-year encore with Mercedes that came to an end this weekend at Sao Paulo without adding a win to his career tally. "He unfortunately didn't have the car to probably prove what he's capable of. That's how it goes sometimes. I'm sure he doesn't regret anything. I'm sure if you ask him, that's what he says."
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