Vettel writes Red Bull into F1 history

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MADRID (AP) - The Formula One season closed with another roller-coaster championship fight that saw Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team riding into the history books.

The 23-year-old German emerged from F1’s first four-man duel to win the championship in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, becoming the sport’s youngest champion and giving Red Bull its first title only five years after first fielding a team.

Vettel never led the standings during a topsy-turvy season in which five drivers were in the mix until the next to last race, the Brazilian GP, where the German won to set himself up for Abu Dhabi.

An error in pit-stop strategy by Ferrari at the Yas Marina circuit cost Fernando Alonso the chance of becoming the youngest three-time champion, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber saw his own ambitions extinguished by a similar miscue.

Those mistakes appear more glaring given that Vettel’s chances looked dim after he retired from the Korean GP, the race before Brazil.

“I think it’s a typical example of you never know, and just maybe a little similar to what happened in 2007,” Vettel said, referencing how Kimi Raikkonen, then with Ferrari, snatched the title from Alonso and McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

“Some things are out of our hands and just happen,” Vettel said. “Some people call it destiny, some people are a little bit more looking for explanations, but that’s the way it goes.”

Vettel’s title confirmed Red Bull’s ascension into Formula One’s elite ranks.

The Austrian team secured 15 of 19 pole positions, but was often unable to turn that performance advantage into race wins. Still, Red Bull also took the manufacturers’ crown after Vettel’s fifth win _ from his record-equaling 10th pole of the season _ gave the team nine wins on the season.

“You know it’s always easy after things have happened to say, ‘OK, you did right, you did wrong,’ ” Vettel said. “In the end you need every single point.”

F1’s decision to overhaul its point system to award 25 points for a win and 18 for second place made victories more important than they were in the old system in which the first two cars earned 10 and 8 points, respectively.

Red Bull eventually triumphed behind its decision to back both drivers “equally” even though it favored Vettel at times, such as at the British GP at Silverstone when a wing was removed from Webber’s car and given to his teammate.

“Of course (Vettel) deserves the world title this year,” the 34-year-old Australian said. “We start again from the first race next year. I think if I’m turning up next year thinking that I’m going to follow Sebastian around then this is not the right way.”

The Red Bull drivers trailed Alonso during the closing stages of the season, when the Spaniard controlled his own destiny.

“I will remember this year for a long time and despite the final result,” Alonso said. “I’m very proud of this, the job the team has done and our approach to the last part of the year.”

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