Sebastian Vettel reveals his hurt at podium booing after wrapping up fourth title
World Champion in emotional mood after clinching fourth title
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 29/10/13 10:00am
At the tender age of 26, Vettel has entered the record books alongside the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as only the third driver in the sport's history to claim four titles in a row.
His latest feat was secured in resplendent style, with Vettel crossing the line at the Buddh International Circuit half a minute clear of his nearest rivals. Having set the fastest time in each of the weekend's practice sessions, and then the 43rd pole position of his career, this was the drive of a champion in every respect.
Even the German's celebrations were just champion, with Vettel treating the Delhi spectators to a series of smoke-spewing doughnuts along the pit-straight before bowing in front of his RB9.
But it was on the podium where Vettel offered a rare glimpse into his psyche when the Red Bull driver finally admitted that he had been affected by the abuse he endured at Belgium, Silverstone and Canada.
"It was not an easy season, even though people from the outside had the idea we had it in our hands. It was a difficult one all in all. It was very difficult for me personally to receive boos even though I hadn't done anything wrong. To overcome that, and give my answers on the track, makes me very proud," a glassy-eyed Vettel revealed.
"It's incredible to race some of the best drivers in the world, it's a very strong field and to come out on top of them is unbelievable. I don't feel old and to achieve that in such a short period is very difficult to grasp - maybe in ten years, then I'll be a little bit better at understanding what we have done so far."
Speaking later in the post-race press conference, in which he swigged from a bottle of champagne, Vettel clarified he understood why he'd been booed earlier in the year but said earning the respect of his rivals was what mattered most.
"It hurts not to get the reception that you expect, but at the same time I think I'm clever enough to understand why they do it. I'm not blaming them," he added.
"Maybe if I was a fan of McLaren or Ferrari or one of the traditional teams, I wouldn't like it if the same guy won again and again.
"But I think the most important things for me is to get the respect of people that I know and people that I race against. I feel respected amongst the drivers - surely you have to fight for that respect when you come in.
"It's very difficult for the fans to understand what's going on behind the scenes. They get a little bit of an idea of who we are, but it's impossible for everyone to introduce themselves and for you to explain what kind of a guy you are."
There is no doubt that Red Bull have been hurt by the brickbats and the negative perception their protégé has suffered. It's perhaps the only battle the team have yet to win.
"Some of the booing has been wound by his competitors, some of it is the jealousy of success, and some of it, in truth, is the Malaysia incident," admitted Adrian Newey in acknowledgment of the infamous Multi-21 saga to Sky Sports F1.
"I don't think people realise that in the heat of the moment you do things that afterwards you may regret. Sebastian afterwards realised it was a mistake, and I don't think that should in any way detract from the great that he is."
Red Bull chief Christian Horner was equally lavish in his praise - and keen to salute the human virtues of his title-winning driver.
"He is a nice guy, hugely popular within the team, with a great sense of humour and he deserves all the credit he gets," the Milton Keynes team boss told Sky F1 having revealed at the start of the weekend that he first met Vettel shortly after the youngster had passed his driving test and then, entirely on his own initiative, drove to the Red Bull garage to introduce himself.
Not that the enthusiasm of youth explains how and why, just ten years after that history-changing day trip, Vettel has been able to conquer the pinnacle of motorsport in such emphatic fashion.
"There's a bit everywhere, and it's the consistency, and the consistency of repeating it in high pres-sure moments," replied Horner when asked what makes Vettel quite so special. "There's nothing he does which is wildly different to the others, it's just that he does it a little bit better and on a consistent basis".
It doesn't sound special, but it's the definition of a champion.