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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Sunday, 9 October 2011 12:52 UK

Formula 1 rivals hail 'phenomenal' Sebastian Vettel

F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel: the champion

Sebastian Vettel's rivals showered the Red Bull driver with praise after he became the youngest double world champion in Formula 1 history.

"It was perfection," said McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. "It's a fantastic achievement. We all knew he was going to do it and it was a perfect season."

McLaren's Jenson Button described the German as "phenomenal" while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was equally effusive.

"He drove perfectly in all races and qualifying in all conditions," he said.

Vettel, 24, finished third in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix to wrap up the title with four races to spare.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button celebrate

Highlights - Japanese Grand Prix

He has dominated the season from start to finish, winning nine of 15 races and taking 12 pole positions to stand 114 points clear of Button in second place.

"Sebastian this year has been phenomenal and he totally deserves the world championship here," said Button, whose victory at Suzuka continued his strong finish to the season.

"He has been given the equipment to do a good job - and you need that - but he has delivered and he hasn't really made any mistakes this year.

"He has been very quick in qualifying and and he has been on the podium every race except one. His worst position is a fourth - how many drivers would dream to get a fourth? He is at the top of his game."


Alonso, who held off a challenge from Vettel to come second in Japan, knows his team has its work cut out to close the gap on Red Bull.

"The championship of Sebastian and Red Bull has been supreme, with no mistakes at all and very dominant victories all through the season," he said.

"He drove perfectly in all races and qualifying in all conditions, wet or dry, and he's a good world champion.

"We know that we need to improve a lot to be at the levels they were this year."

Team Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen, who won the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, tweeted his congratulations to Vettel.

"On way to Tokyo, great race today really enjoyed it! Congrats Vettel well deserved champion!" he wrote.

After becoming the sport's youngest back-to-back champion, Vettel has emerged as the most likely candidate to chase down fellow German Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven world titles.

"I'm very excited for him, he's the youngest double world champion," said Mercedes driver Schumacher. "I feel very excited and happy for him."

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see also
Vettel takes crown as Button wins
09 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Rivals hail 'phenomenal' Vettel
09 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Second title better, says Vettel
09 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Emotional Button hails Suzuka win
09 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton laments 'shocking' race
09 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Japanese Grand Prix as it happened
09 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Sebastian Vettel: the champion
09 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Japanese Grand Prix - top three drivers
09 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Vettel beats Button to Japan pole
08 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton accepts blame for error
08 Oct 11 |  Formula One

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