Sebastian Vettel adds to F1 drivers' title by committing to Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel Waves To Crowd

Sebastian Vettel has given Red Bull something even more valuable than a double hat-trick of Formula One drivers' and constructors' world championships.

The greatest gift of all in this season of giving came long after his sixth place in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix had confirmed his third title by just three points over Fernando Alonso, after the rain-sodden crowds had departed and he had been ushered into the pantheon of the all-time great racing drivers. It was when he said he said that he was "extremely committed" to the team until the end of the 2014 season.

His contract with the Milton Keynes-based factory still has two years to run but that has not prevented repeated and well-sourced rumours throughout the season that he would join Ferrari at the end of 2013.

On Sunday night, however, there was no equivocation. He said: "I have a contract until the end of '14. I'm very happy with what we have achieved so far and I don't think this story is over yet.

"I'm very happy and extremely committed to give everything I have, also in the next years when I'm with them. At the moment, I don't see any point thinking about another team or something else. I'm extremely happy in the position I am. It's incredible what we have achieved."

Although Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, has always said that Vettel would remain for a further two years, the strength of the speculation threatened to destabilise the relationship between the driver and his employers.

And now that driver must be counted among the greatest to have squeezed themselves into a Formula One cockpit. Just look at the names of the others who have won three titles: Michael Schumacher (seven); Juan Manuel Fangio (five); Alain Prost (four); Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and now Vettel.

Although he finished only sixth on Sunday there were elements of greatness for his car had been damaged in his first lap collision with Bruno Senna, and then he lost radio contact with his team.

"I came in for inters, but the inters weren't ready because we had no radio communication. They couldn't hear me. Radio communication in those conditions is so crucial."

Horner understood that Vettel was different back in 2005 when the 18-year-old had just passed his driving test. He flew from Germany to England, hired a car to drive to the team's headquarters, asked for Horner and then said he wanted a tour of the team's facilities. He was already one of 16 Red Bull academy drivers but none of the others had shown such initiative and Horner was immediately impressed with his attitude, intelligence and almost forensic attention to detail.

Within two years he had made his F1 debut, replacing the injured Robert Kubica at BMW Sauber and becoming the youngest points scorer in the sport. Seven weeks later the carpenter's son was driving for Red Bull's then sister team, Toro Rosso.

Vettel says: "I had a very smart guy who once told me the hardest thing was winning after winning, because you get the attention, you get the pressure but you focus on how to win again, rather than focusing on the small steps it takes.

"I'm not holy, I make mistakes like everyone else but I think the way I was brought up was to be honest and admit if you do something wrong. In qualifying three, on the first run, I made a mistake but then I have no problem to admit it. I was brought up that way to be honest and I also believe that's a reason why we succeeded in the end."

His boyhood hero was Michael Schumacher – although away from the track they were the other Michaels, Jordan and Jackson, and he even had ambitions of being a singer. Later, he would learn to love British humour – he adores Monty Python and Little Britain.

His approach to driving and life, however, is very grounded. "People obviously try to lift you up if everything goes right and they try to knock you down when you do a mistake or you do wrong," he says.

"I think you have to remain the same, let's say, neutral, as in, you're never as good as they are, as they say and never as bad as they say. If you feel down or things go against your way, then it's incredibly helpful to have support, people telling you that they still believe in you.

"I mentioned the guys working on the car in the garage – imagine you walk into your office and everyone gives you, without saying a single word, the feeling that things will be all right. It gives you confidence, energy without having to say anything. It's extremely useful and very helpful and it only helps you to be stronger."

And right now the remarkably mature Sebastian Vettel is much stronger than anyone else.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Weaver in São Paulo, for The Guardian on Monday 26th November 2012 19.38 Europe/London

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