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Greg Baker/AP/Press Association Images Vettel celebrates with his Red Bull team-mates
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Widespread praise for champion Vettel
Rival drivers all congratulated Sebastian Vettel on his latest title triumph in the aftermath of the Japanese Grand Prix.

JENSON BUTTON MAY have won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday but Sebastian Vettel was the only man being talked about in the pitlane after the main event.

Having made his Formula 1 debut just five seasons ago, the German is now the youngest ever double World Champion at the age of 24. His star shone brightly from that very first race – the US Grand Prix in 2007 – and he quickly marked himself out as a future World Champion.

Speaking to reporters after the race, an emotional Vettel confessed: “It is hard to find the right words.

“To win the championship here is pretty special and a bit funny at the same time, because it’s as confusing as the first one. All of sudden, you’re supposed to (think)… ‘Yep, that’s the moment’, (so) now enjoy. I think it will surely take a little bit of time but the season has been fantastic.”

With four races still remaining, Vettel has amassed nine Grand Prix victories so far this term – having helped turned Red Bull from an also-ran outfit with reliability problems into world champions. He insisted:

“There is no secret. It is step-by-step. In a way the hardest thing is after winning last year… we won the championship, it was so close and we were so excited…. was to go out and do it again.

“Even though you know how to do it, it doesn’t allow you to forget all these little steps. As I said I could not have done this alone. I needed all the support I could get from the team, from (team-mate) Mark (Webber), from everyone outside the team working for me.

“I think with a less dominant car than last year we were able to do a very, very good job. We are very strong as a team. Every time it mattered, we made very few mistakes – especially at those times when it was critical we were performing. I think everyone working for Red Bull Racing can be very proud.”

One of the first to offer congratulations to Vettel was seven-times champion and compatriot Michael Schumacher, who said he was ‘proud’ of the Red Bull racer’s efforts.

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Race winner Jenson Button said his rival “deserved” the title after doing a “great job” all season – even if he was unimpressed by the German’s driving through the first corner.

Lewis Hamilton said the title triumph came after a “flawless” season and was a “fantastic achievement”. The Briton also apologised to Felipe Massa after their cars collided once again, playing down any talk of a growing rift between the pair by concluding: “I’ve got the utmost respect for him, he’s a fantastic driver.”

Fernando Alonso, the man who was youngest double World Champion before the race, added his congratulations before warning that Ferrari were firmly intent on beating him in 2012. The Spaniard added:

“I think now we will see who is the youngest three time World Champion.”

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