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Second win

October 9, 2011

German driver Sebastian Vettel has successfully defended his title as Formula One world champion. The 24-year-old's Red Bull took third place at the Japanese Grand Prix, more than enough to clinch the historic title.

Sebastian Vettel
Vettel is the youngest ever two-time number oneImage: dapd

Germany's Sebastian Vettel won the Formula One championship for a second consecutive year on Sunday, coming in behind Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

The third-place finish safely clinched the title for the 24-year-old Vettel, making him the youngest two-time champion driver in F1 history.

"It was such a long year, such a fantastic year, and it's not done yet [...] To win the championship here is fantastic," a relieved Vettel told journalists at the post-race press conference.

Rocky start

Vettel leads the field at the Suzuka Grand Prix
Vettel held first position after almost bumping ButtonImage: dapd

The Red Bull team's hearts were in their mouths at the very first corner of the race, when Vettel and Button's McLaren nearly collided. Vettel got off to a slightly tardy start from pole position and cut hard to his right to block Button, who was forced to slow and put wheels on the grass verge to avoid contact.

Button could be heard over his team radio saying: "He's got to get a penalty for that," but review of the footage showed that the Red Bull driver was not in the wrong.

After the race, as the top three drivers prepared to walk out on the podium, Button asked Vettel, "Didn't you see me at the start?" to which Vettel replied: "I saw you behind me, not alongside."

Vettel briefly challenged Alonso's Ferrari for second with 10 laps to go but deferred to advice from his team not to take any risks knowing he had the championship wrapped up with a third-place finish. He finished just over two seconds behind Button and just under a second behind Alonso.

Sebastian Vettel
'It's truly a dream,' a modest Vettel told German TV after the raceImage: dapd

Record-matching pace

The finish took Vettel's total points to 324 - more than enough to wrap up the title with four races left. The young German is the third driver in F1 history to clinch the title in so few races.

"I can't describe in words what this means to me. It's not just one race; it's an entire year. And with all the preparations and the time we've all put into this: It's truly a dream," Vettel told German media in an interview after the press conference.

Vettel, who is only the ninth driver to win back-to-back crowns, had started from pole position for the twelfth time this year.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight