Sebastian Vettel could barely contain his emotions as he struggled to express his joy at claiming his second world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old German, driving for Red Bull, needed just one point in Suzuka to become the youngest two-time world champion in Formula One history.
He led the race from pole in the opening stint before pit stops saw him fall behind British race-winner Jenson Button of McLaren and Spain’s Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
Vettel eventually crossed the line just two seconds behind Button.
“To win the championship here is pretty special, and a bit funny at the same time. It’s as confusing as the first one,” he said.
“I think it will surely take a little bit of time.
“Life for me, and I think all the drivers, doesn’t get much better than this. Sunny days, a lot of fans, everyone excited to see what you do. I think that is what life is about.
“To wrap up the championship here, which has been the ultimate target this year, is difficult to put in words. It’s more than fantastic.”
Vettel secured this year’s title with four races remaining, in contrast to 2010 where he only led the drivers’ championship after winning the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
The German all but guaranteed his second crown after winning five of the opening six races of the year, but he said a policy of not looking too far into the future served him and his team well.
“I think all year we tried very, very hard to keep our feet on the ground and always tried to focus on the next step, on the next race. I think, in the end, if there was any, (that) was one of the secrets,” he said.
Vettel said he would have some quiet moments in the coming days and weeks to let it sink in, adding: “It does take some time to understand.”
He was the only driver to finish every Grand Prix this season, and Sunday’s race was his 14th podium finish in 15 starts.
While 10th place in Japan would have been enough to take the championship, Vettel said he had wanted to win.
“I wasn’t targeting one point. If we targeted one point, I think the race would have been a bit different, but we targeted to do our optimum, which in a way today was third place. That’s what we got.”