After surviving an epic Brazilian Grand Prix that saw him spin on the first lap and lose radio communication, leading to an errant pit stop, the newly-crowned three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel spoke to us about accomplishing a feat that only two others have before him.
You’re now a three-time world champion and you’ve won three in a row. What does that mean to you?
It's difficult to find the right words. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there are only two guys who have done that before [Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher].
I have to say a big thank you to everyone in the team. Of course, this sounds like a bit of a standard phrase and sometimes we get criticized for bringing up standard phrases like that, but I really am just one of the guys in the team.
There were a lot of problems in the race. Was that one of your toughest grands prix?
I said it on the radio but you didn't hear that! I said it was for sure the toughest race. It's hard enough if you lose radio communication for a start in these circumstances, because if there are any circumstances where you really need to talk, it's these.
Then we got turned around, the car was damaged, we were dead last, and we came back again. But still we finished sixth…and obviously it happened to be the last race and the championship decider and it went in our favor, so not much more to say.
Would you say this is your hardest-won title and, if so, perhaps the most rewarding?
It was a very tough season for us on-track and off-track, a season with ups and downs for everyone. However, as I said, I think we always remained ourselves and kept doing it our way, and I think that made the difference in the end.
"It's hard enough if you lose radio communication for a start -- because if there are any circumstances where you really need to talk, it's these. Then we got turned around, the car was damaged, we were dead last, and we came back again."
In that way, I think it was because people tried everything -- inside the lines, outside the lines -- to beat us and the amount of questions we had to deal with throughout the season didn't make our lives easier. But the key was to remain ourselves and I think that made the difference in a way.
It was a season characterized by a poor start but a big recovery. How did that come about?
Since the start of the season, we were fighting with the car. It wasn't similar to last year's. I couldn't -- it's difficult for you to understand -- but I couldn't use my tricks or my style to make it work and manipulate the car the way I liked.
I didn't have enough rear stability, mostly, to work with the brakes and get the car into the corners, to the apex, the way I like.
We tried everything and I think at some stage, we just did a step that was big enough and in the right direction that allowed me to do more of what I like, so naturally it came in our direction.
You’ve won three titles in a row now: what’s the next challenge?
First of all I want to enjoy now…I don't want to get carried away with next year. It's incredible what we have achieved.
[Red Bull Racing team boss] Christian [Horner] came on the radio after the race and mentioned the names that have achieved similar. He started with Michael [Schumacher] -- that was the obvious choice, quite easy to remember -- then [Ayrton] Senna, [Niki] Lauda, [Nelson] Piquet. After that it was starting to get all loud and noisy. I think he mentioned all of them except [Alain] Prost, so I told him: "You forgot Prost, he's got four." [Juan Manuel] Fangio as well. Sorry, nearly forgot!