Vettel says second title 'as confusing as the first'
Two-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel said it was difficult to put into words what it meant to take the title for the second consecutive year, and with four races remaining in the season.
Given that he only needed a single point at Suzuka to win the 2011 world championship regardless of whether sole remaining rival Jenson Button was able to clinch the race win, you'd have thought that he'd have come to Suzuka with better prepared for the barrage of questions about becoming a two-time world champion.
"We set ourselves the target to win the Championship this year and so, to win it by Japan with four more races to go, is difficult to put into words," he admitted after clinching the title with a run to third place in the Japanese Grand Prix. "It's more than fantastic ... it's phenomenal what's happened!"
Asked what it felt like to win back-to-back world championship, Vettel described that overwhelming mix of emotions that were pouring through him as being "as confusing as the first one.
"It does take some time to understand and I think those quiet moments that I will have, at some point, either tonight, tomorrow or the next week or weeks, for myself, but also with people who are very close to me, to take time and let things sink in a little bit," he added.
When shown a special video by the BBC team in pit lane marking the only other champions who have claimed back-to-back wins over the years - Alberto Ascari in 1952/53; Juan Manual Fangio in 1954-57; Jack Brabham in 1959/60; Alain Prost in 1985/86; Aryton Senna in 1990/91; Mike Hakkinen in 1998/99; Michael Schumacher in 1994/95 and 2000-2004; and Fernando Alonso in 2005/6 - the enormity of the achievement truly started to sink in and tears sprang to his eyes.
"I never imagined I would win one championship and so to win this second one is amazing," he said. "I have a lot of good memories from F1, from watching it when I was young, to now and I feel fortunate and blessed to experience today."
And Vettel and Red Bull Racing had been completely sincere about not taking anything for granted right to the end. "One of the important things was that we didn't allow ourselves to drift away with the thought too much," he insisted. "Instead we concentrated on every single step and everything we have done this year and everything we have achieved. Then - wow!"
"It's phenomenal for Sebastian Vettel to win his second world championship, he's driven magnificently this year and thoroughly deserves this championship victory," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "It's the culmination of a lot of hard work and team work and he can be very proud of what he's achieved."
Japan has seen many world championships come to a climax and Suzuka is a circuit steeped in motorsport history - and blessed by some of the most enthusiastic and demonstrative fans on the F1 calendar, which all helped contribute to a very special feeling for Sebastian Vettel right from the start.
"There were so many excited people when we did the drivers' parade today and that was my last thought when I put my helmet on," he added. "For drivers, it doesn't get much better than this - a sunny day and all the fans excited to see what you do.
"I think that's what life is about."