GREATER NOIDA, India (AP) — He drives with the poise of seasoned veteran, but Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel says he's still too young to appreciate his historic his fourth straight Formula One championship.
Starting from pole, the 26-year-old Vettel turned in a trademark clinical performance to win the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday and join F1 greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as just the third driver to win four consecutive championships. The only other driver to win four titles was Alain Prost.
Vettel is also the youngest four-time world champion by eight years.
"I'm way too young to understand what it means," he said of his achievement. "I might be 60 one day, maybe then I will understand, but nobody cares anymore. I care. It's difficult to realize something that nobody can take away from you, basically."
As in the past two years in India, Vettel won from pole position, finishing almost 30 seconds ahead of second placed Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean taking his second straight third place after starting from 17th on the grid.
"You've won it in style," an elated Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Vettel over the car radio immediately after the race. "Brilliant stuff. You've joined the greats."
After taking the checkered flag, Vettel performed several donuts on the track before climbing from his car, acknowledging the crowd and kneeling with his head bowed to the track. He then climbed the pit lane fence to embrace members of his team.
"I'm overwhelmed, don't know what to say," he said immediately after the race. "It is one of the best days of my life.
With Vettel's win, Red Bull also claimed its fourth straight constructor's title, despite losing Mark Webber to mechanical problems while in second place.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fourth with teammate Fernando Alonso finishing a disappointing 11th.
"Today is the day to congratulate (Vettel) and for him to enjoy the championship," Alonso said, who is 115 points behind the Red Bull driver in second place in the standings with three races remaining.
Vettel has now won 10 races this season, including the last six.
A clearly emotional Vettel, taking occasional swigs from his celebratory magnum of champagne, thanked his team, his family, spoke of his respect for the Indian people and rivals including Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Webber in a post-race media conference.