Sebastian Vettel becomes youngest ever F1 champion

Sebastian Vettel today took over the mantle of the youngest world champion in Formula One history following an astonishing end to one of the most dramatic seasons in the sport's 60 years.

Vettel took the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi for his fifth victory of the year, and with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso a distant seventh as a number of events conspired against him, it allowed the German to make sure of his place in the record books.

At 23 years and 135 days, Vettel beats the mark of Lewis Hamilton - who finished second in this race ahead of team-mate and outgoing world champion Jenson Button - by 166 days.

It guaranteed Vettel the title by four points from Alonso, with Red Bull completing a championship double after winning the constructors' crown a week ago in Brazil.

Vettel was clearly in tears on his slow-down lap as he attempted to speak over the in-car radio, with team principal Christian Horner proclaiming: "Sebastian Vettel you are the world champion!"

Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was the first to congratulate Vettel as they emerged from the cockpit of their cars.

Out on the track, however, there was consternation when Alonso drew up alongside Vitaly Petrov as the Spaniard wagged his finger at the Renault driver after being help up for around 40 laps.

Petrov, however, was perfectly within his rights to fight for his eventual sixth place, his second best result of the year, and one which may yet lead to him retaining his place for next season.

The start was typically dramatic, albeit with all the action going on behind the leading quintet who were making their way onto one of the longest straights in F1 when the action unfolded.

It was sparked by nothing more than a nudge from Nico Rosberg on Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher on the approach into turn six, a sharp right-hander.

The minor impact was enough to spin seven-times champion Schumacher into oncoming traffic, leaving Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi with nowhere to go.

Liuzzi then drove over the front of Schumacher's left-front wheel, the front wing of his car narrowly missing the German - who was left helpless inside the cockpit.

Another few inches to Liuzzi's left and his car would definitely have rammed into Schumacher's helmet, but luckily the German emerged unscathed.

That appreciably prompted the introduction of the safety car, and crucially, as it unfolded, a flurry of pit stops from a handful of drivers.

The most notable were Rosberg and Petrov, as would eventually come to light later into the race.

Another vital element that occurred within seconds of the five red lights disappearing saw Button pass Alonso at the start, relegating the 29-year-old to fourth.

With Vettel out in front once the safety car disappeared after lap five, that was the lowest position required by Alonso to claim the title.

Once the initial stops unfolded, from his fifth place Webber was the first of the leaders to take on fresh rubber after complaining of his rear tyres falling away.

Ferrari countered by bringing in Felipe Massa, who had been directly behind the Australian at the time - but he failed to slingshot by as had been hoped.

That forced Ferrari to bring in Alonso to counter Webber, leading to the 29-year-old dropping behind a gaggle of cars, but primarily Rosberg and Petrov.

At that stage Alonso would have believed in his car and his talent being supreme enough to force his way past both as the race unfolded, but it was not to be.

At one stage Alonso did attempt a move on Petrov into the left-hand corner out of the long straight, but almost lost his front wing in the process.

It was as close as Alonso came, his position worsening at the start of lap 47 as close friend Robert Kubica in his Renault finally came in for a stop having held up Hamilton for an inordinate length of time.

In leaving it so late, and with Petrov holding up Alonso, the Pole had enough in hand to ensure he emerged in front of his team-mate and the double world champion.

Once Force India's Adrian Sutil also pitted from his fourth at the time a lap later, it meant the entire field had made the necessary one and only stop.

At that stage with seven laps to run, Vettel led Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, and with Alonso seventh, and Webber out of the running in eighth.

Those last seven laps will likely have been the most nerve-wracking of Vettel's life, but he mastered them with confidence to eventually take his place in F1 folklore.

Vettel has only led the championship at its most crucial moment.

"I'm a bit speechless. I don't know what you are supposed to say in this moment," said Vettel, before then speaking for three minutes.

"It has been an incredibly tough season, physically and mentally especially. But we have always believed in myself, my car, the team.

"I tried to do my own thing today, knowing the only thing I could do was my best and to win this race.

"As you say, I've only led the championship today.

"The car was fantastic, a dream, and it was crucial Lewis got hold up behind Kubica.

"But to be honest I didn't know anything over the last 10 laps. In crossing the line my engineer came on and said 'It's looking good, we have to wait for the cars to finish.'

"I was wondering what he meant, and then he came over the radio at me again a few seconds later and screamed that I am the world champion."

Finishing fourth in the standings, 14 points behind Vettel, Hamilton said "It's not been the most spectacular season for us.

"I just want to offer huge congratulations to Sebastian and Red Bull."

As for Button, he remarked: "The season as a whole has been very up and down for a lot of people

"But I've had a great season. I feel very at home at McLaren, and now I can look forward to a good winter.

"Hopefully Lewis and I can mount a better challenge, and I hope to be sat where this guy (Vettel) is next year."

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game