By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel won his third Formula 1 world title during Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix in São Paulo, becoming only the third driver in history to win three consecutive crowns. On a rain-soaked track Vettel finished sixth in the race following a collision, three points ahead of Ferrari’s Spanish racer Fernando Alonso.
McLaren’s Jenson Button won Sunday’s Grand Prix, the last of the F1 season, but all eyes were on Vettel, who became the youngest ever driver to win three titles in a row.
At 25 years-old the German is six years younger than legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, who had become the youngest triple champion at the age of 31 years-old in 1991.
Speaking at the end of the race, Vettel was clearly overwhelmed by his achievement. “It’s difficult to imagine what goes through my head now even for myself,” he said. “I am full of adrenaline and if you poked me now I wouldn’t feel it. It was an incredible race.”
The heavy rain made for a tense and dramatic race. Vettel, who started the afternoon fourth on the grid, got off to a tough start as he was almost immediately hit by Brazilian racer Bruno Senna. The impact sent Vettel spinning across the track, damaging the rear of his car. By the end of the first lap he was trailing in last place.
Yet, in a thrilling turnaround that showcased the young German’s talent, it took Vettel just eight laps to recover from his early setback and surge into sixth position. In order to wrest the championship from Vettel Alonso needed his rival to finish seventh or lower, but the difficult weather conditions were not on his side.
A large amount of safety-car intervention decreased the threat to Vettel as Alonso failed to get into pole position, and lap 62 was to prove historic for the soon-to-be champion.
As Alonso overtook Felipe Massa to go into second, applying pressure to Vettel’s place at the top of the leader board, Michael Schumacher, in the final race of his own glittering career, was passed by his compatriot as the young driver looked to secure his historic triumph.
With the race drawing to a close, members of the Red Bull team repeatedly urged Vettel to slow down and not take any unnecessary risks, reminding him that sixth place was good enough to win the title. Vettel’s moment was safe when Paul di Resta crashed on the penultimate lap, meaning the race ended under the safety car and Vettel was confirmed as champion.
Vettel’s driving team Red Bull-Renault finished top of the constructors’ world championship, with Ferrari in second and McLaren in third. The highest placed Brazilian driver on the drivers’ board was Ferrari’s Massa, who came in seventh with 122 points. Bruno Senna, driving for Williams-Renault, finished sixteenth with 31 points.