Vettel unaware of championship position until last lap

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2010
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Sebastian Vettel said his team kept him in the dark about how close he was to winning the world championship during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Speaking in the post-race press conference he said:

I’m a bit speechless to be honest, I don’t know what you’re supposed to say in this moment. It has been an incredible, tough season, for myself, for all of us, physically and mentally especially. To come here, we have always kept believing in us, in our team, in the car. Do did I keep believing in myself.

Today was a special day all around. This morning I got up and tried not to think about anything, tried to avoid contact to people too much, just tried to do my own thing. And I knew that the only thing I can do is try to win this race and do my best.

We have only really led this championship when it matters. I am speechless.

As I said the car was phenomenal today. The start was crucial, it was very tight with Lewis but then in the first stint I got a little bit of graining so Lewis got a bit close but then the car stabilised.

From then on it was a dream. Obviously it helped, it was good for all of us, I think it cooled us down, that Lewis got out behind Kubica and got held up so I could make a gap.

To be honest I didn’t know anything until I took the chequered flag. The last ten laps I was wondering because my race engineer Rocky was trying to give me advice in the last ten laps to bring the car home. And I was think “why is this guy so nervous? We must be in a bloody good position.”

And then crossing the line he came on the line very silently and said “it’s looking good, we have to wait until the cars finish” and I was thinking “what does he mean?” Because I hadn’t seen the screens, I just wanted to make sure not to get any distractions, just focus on myself.

And then he comes on the radio and screams at me that we’ve won the world championship.

I have to say thanks to a lot of people, I will surely forget a lot of those but to start with the team, all the guys here at the race track, all my mechanics – all the mechanics in the team, not only my mechanics – everyone.

The engineers – sorry I’ve made this a bit long – we have an extremely strong amount of people together working in harmony. Back in Milton Keynes the guys are pushing like hell and I think they’ll enjoy this moment as much as last year.

Back in Austria, all the people that have been supporting me from the beginning. It’s been an incredible season with Red Bull and after this season’s ups and downs, to come here and lead the world championship at the last race is unbelievable.

Thanks and also thanks to all the people back in karting, some of them are in Kerpen supporting me, but also back in my home town, Heppenheim, I just want to say thank you very much.
Sebastian Vettel

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    27 comments on “Vettel unaware of championship position until last lap”

    1. I hardly believe him. xD

      1. lol. I bet he didnt even know he was in Abu Dhabi until the last lap either, or that he was driving a red bull. pfft, PR.

      2. Why not? I feel it makes perfect sense to have him just drive around and bring it home. Just think of the nerves and tension if they would have told him he was going to win the championship ten laps to the finish, only to see him drop it.
        A shame he did not thank Mark for making their strategy work, although he might not even have known until after the interview.

      3. Why? Not telling him anything makes perfect sense.

        Isn’t Vettel the “Crash kid” as you guys call him? Why would the crash kid’s team want to agitate him and make him nervous?

        For all you know, he might end up in the barriers if his concentration wavers.

        1. Yeah totally. He just needed to keep focus on the track, the breaking points and everything. Just getting that car home. If he knew he were going to be word champion he would start to think about a lot of things other then getting the car around the track.

        2. I can remember an article on Vettel stressing the importance of ‘focus’ for him. In quali he closes his eyes in the garage, imagining the lap, before going out. Maybe why he’s good leading from the front too. Seems a sensible decision, though you’d imagine Alonso or Hamilton pestering their crew about where the others where until they were told!

      4. I was competing in an amateur tennis competition. It was with 8 teams against each other, 4 single matches, 4 doubles matches. We were behind in the championship. I was playing the mixed doubles match, we won the match. After we did my mom told me “congratulations, you’re the champions now!”, I was totally unaware of that during the match, all I knew was that we just had to get out there and try to win that match. Long story short: I can imagine why they didn’t tell Vettel, I do believe him!

      5. I think the team didn’t tell him much just so that he doesn’t become too much conscious that he might lose focus… they just let him be, without worries… and he drove to victory :)

        1. Exactly .. while not quite the same I know the time I always drop it on race sims is when I am in a position to win a title or important event, the pressure gets to you. and thats just a game never mind real life.

          1. Agreed, Vettel Crashes usually when he least needs to… so why tell him he is champion when he doesn’t need to know… oh but that finger…

            1. correct, he doesn’t need to know. :)

        2. You are right hannah my dear… He might end up to the wall had he been told.

    2. Sensible tactic. No point agitating the fellow.

    3. does he know his name? or is he unaware of it?

    4. I’m just surprised that he was happy enough to celebrate winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix without even asking if he was World Champion. He has to be the most chilled-out championship contender ever if he was just satisfied with winning the individual race even though he could have literally just won the Driver’s Championship.

    5. 2011 Numbers should be:
      1 – Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
      2 – Mark Webber (Red Bull)
      3 – Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
      4 – Jenson Button (McLaren)
      5 – Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
      6 – Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
      7 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
      8 – Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
      9 – Robert Kubica (Renault)
      10 – Vitaly Petrov/Anyone else (Renault)
      11 – Rubens Barrichello (Williams)
      12 – Nico Hulkenberg/Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
      14 – Adrian Sutil (Force India)
      15 – Vitantonio Liuzzi/Paul Di Resta (Force India)
      16 – Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
      17 – Sergio Perez (Sauber)
      18 – Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso)
      19 – Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso)
      20 – Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus)
      21 – Jarno Trulli (Lotus)
      22 – Driver 1 (HRT)
      23 – Driver 2 (HRT)
      24 – Timo Glock (Virgin)
      25 – Lucas Di Grassi (Virgin)

      Mercedes may give number 7 to Michael as they did this year, and some drivers may enter/swap/exit F1.

      1. Something I was thinking a while back when it looked like Red Bull 1, McLaren 2 in the constructors was: in 2009 Hamilton was 1, 2010 – 2 and now 2011 – 3.

        1. How are the numbers decided? champion gets number 1, his partner gets 2 n then according to constructors positions?

          1. Yes, spot on.

            What about drivers 3 and 4 for HRT? :)

        2. That’s pretty cool Tom, nice job catching that!

    6. I believe it, knowing to be the championship leader during the race wouldn’t have helped it. Anyway great tactics at Red Bull, deserved to win.

    7. Seb is exaggerating for sure. Although his race engineer would want him to only focus on the task at hand and didnt discuss permutations on the radio, Seb clearly was aware that he didnt want mark in second and alo greater than fifth. He smelled blood after the pit stop but quietly waited official confirmation. He knew what happened to Massa in brazil.

    8. I believe him. you could see it in his body language when he celebrated the win as he pulled over after the chequered flag – it wasn’t the same exuberance you’d have seen from a new champion. You could see the physical change in posture when it changed to the onboards after hed been told.

    9. The drivers usually can see the TV screens as well. I reall really doubt that he didn’t knew.

    10. Well on my telly he was crying his eyes out after he finished. These guys are the top 0.5% in the world, they know what matters and I can’t beleive he wouldn’t have known, however he did say pre-race that he would leave the maths to the geeks and concentrate on his driving! Whatever the truth well done to him!!! Wonder where Webber goes next?

    11. Third last paragraph of the interview is quoting Vettel wrong, as I remember it he finished with “ much as last week!”

      The engineers – sorry I’ve made this a bit long – we have an extremely strong amount of people together working in harmony. Back in Milton Keynes the guys are pushing like hell and I think they’ll enjoy this moment as much as last year.

    12. That wasn’t that long of a speech. Glad that the team kept him cool & let him driver & they do the calculation. It was a good season for him.

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