Sebastian Vettel, the new Formula One drivers champion, was not told of the positions of his title rivals as he led the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
The German reveals that it was only after Fernando Alonso and teammate Mark Webber crossed the finish line at the Yas Marina circuit in seventh and eighth that his team told him he had taken the championship with his victory.
“I'm speechless. I don't know what you are supposed to say in these moments,” said Vettel, after the race, before contradicting himself with a detailed summary of his how the day had unfolded.
“It has been an incredibly tough season for myself and all of us, physically and mentally. We always kept believing in ourselves – no matter what people said – in the team and in our car.
“I kept believing in myself and today was a special day all round. I got up this morning and tried not to think about anything; I tried to avoid contact with people and just tried to do my own thing. I knew all I could try to do was win this race and do my best. We only led this Championship once this season, but it was when it mattered.
“I was thinking 'what does he mean,' as I hadn't seen the screens – I just wanted to make sure I didn't get any distractions during the race and focused on myself. Then Christian came on the radio and screamed at me that we had won the World Championship – I have to say thanks to so many people.
“To start with, the team: that's all the people here at the track and all the people in Milton Keynes – they are pushing like hell and I think they will be enjoying this moment as much as last week. Also everyone back in Austria, who has supported me from the beginning – it's been an incredible journey with Red Bull and, after all the ups and downs this season, to come here now and win the Championship is unbelievable.
“Thanks to everyone I have known from the early days in karting and those in my home town of Heppenheim to now, thank you so much.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was full of praise for the new champion and the team, who were crowned constructors’ champions last weekend in Brazil.
“It's an unbelievable outcome,” he said. “The first time Sebastian has led the Championship is at the last race of the year, but arguably that's the only time you need to lead it. He's stuck with it though this year, he's had some tough times and he's had his issues with reliability here and there, but he's never lost his focus.
“He's the youngest ever Formula One World Champion and a very deserving World Champion. It's down to what he's done on the circuit and the whole team is hugely proud of what he's achieved today.”
“Today belongs to Sebastian Vettel and it's fantastic to have Mr Mateschitz here to witness our first Drivers' World Championship. It's been a very big and emotional week for the team and I'd like to thank every single member, all our suppliers, everyone at Red Bull and Dietrich Mateschitz for his unfaltering support. It's been a very, very big week.”