SAO PAULO, Brazil — Sebastian Vettel knows he is in good company. A few seconds after he crossed the finish line at the Brazilian Grand Prix, he started discussing the names of other three-time Formula One champions.
Including Vettel now, there are nine three-time champions in F1 — Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and Juan Manuel Fangio are the others.
"I’m extremely happy in the position I am. It’s incredible what we have achieved," said Vettel, who was still celebrating when Red Bull team principal Christian Horner reminded him of the significance of his triumph.
"Christian came on the radio after the race and mentioned the names that have achieved similar, and he forgot Prost, so I told him, but I had no radio so he couldn’t hear me," Vettel said.
The German driver lost radio communication back to the team early in the race. He overcame that and a first-lap crash to finish sixth and clinch the title over Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
"He started with Michael, that was the obvious choice, which is quite easy to remember, Senna, Lauda, Piquet and then it was starting to get all loud and noisy. I think he mentioned all of them except Prost, so I told him, ‘you forgot Prost, he’s got four (titles)."’
Vettel has outdone them all in one aspect, though — becoming the youngest three-time champion at age 25. He also is the first to achieve three straight titles since Schumacher won five consecutive from 2000-04. The only other driver to win at least three straight titles was Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954-57.
"It’s difficult to find the right words," Vettel said. "Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are only two guys who have done that before. Obviously you need to be in the right place at the right time but I also believe that you can create your own luck and work for what is coming up."
Vettel said it was special that he won his third title at Interlagos, the home track for the late Senna.
"We are in Sao Paulo, the place where Ayrton Senna was born and the place where he was buried," he said. "To come here and win the championship for the third time, I don’t really know what to say."
What’s the next challenge for Vettel?
"First of all, I want to enjoy now," he said. "The most important thing is to be present and I don’t want to get carried away with next year. Surely at some stage you try to charge the batteries, it’s been a tough and long season, and come back in shape next year."
He reiterated his commitment to Red Bull, saying he has no plans to move and that he wants to win more titles with the team.
"I’m with the team, I have a contract until the end of ’14," Vettel said. "I’m very happy with what we have achieved so far and I don’t think this story is over yet. I’m very happy and extremely committed to give everything I have in the next years. At the moment I don’t see any point thinking about another team or something else."