David Coulthard, a man who’s seen some F1 success and some battling team-mates gives us an insight into the Red Bull Racing camp as they fly home from Abu Dhabi.
Anyone who says that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber do not respect each other, or that they are not on speaking terms, has not been privy to the scenes that I have witnessed over the past 36 hours. Like a couple of boxers who indulge in pre-match trash talk, produce an epic 12-round slugfest and then embrace afterwards, it has been fascinating to witness at first-hand their raw emotions since Sunday night.
Sebastian is on cloud nine; stunned. Since taking the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi to become F1’s youngest ever world champion, his life has changed beyond all recognition. He doesn’t even realise it yet. But in the midst of the madness has also been impressively sensitive to his team mate’s feelings.
Mark, who lost out on the final day, is on the canvas at the moment and Seb is fully aware that without him he would not be where he is. I know they spent a whole hour after the race in the drivers’ room on Sunday night talking it all over, which from Sebastian’s perspective is quite a thing when you have just won the world championship and everyone is outside getting pissed.
In fact – and it might sound strange for a team which made a name for itself as the wild child of the paddock on its arrival six years ago – there hasn’t really been a huge release of emotion yet. There was only time for a few drinks at the Yas Hotel on Sunday night before we were back at our hotels packing for the trip to Dubai airport.
I was lucky enough to be part of an intimate group – together with the drivers, team principal Christian Horner, chief technical officer Adrian Newey and Red Bull’s marketing and PR managers – who flew over to Red Bull’s headquarters near Salzburg together on Monday.
Rather than being raucous, the mood on the way over was one of enormous pride and satisfaction. Sebastian and Mark sat next to each other and dozed and talked. It felt really special to be a part of it. Make no mistake, Red Bull’s achievement is considerable. On a personal level, I feel enormously proud of what I have contributed to this team since moving from McLaren for the 2005 season; the whole place is unrecognisable from what is was back then.
In a sense, it is a vindication of what Max Mosley always said about F1 needing change to sustain itself. An opportunity was created and once again we have an independent team with a customer engine taking on the likes of Ferrari and McLaren and beating them.
Red Bull are now an established force; they are not a drinks company playing F1. Life is a people business and they have the right people in the right areas. I can foresee many more titles.
Which brings us back to the drivers. There has been some speculation over whether Mark will stay on next season but there is no doubt in my mind. Mark has pushed Sebastian hard two years running. He has come up short by the narrowest of margins. Who is to say he won’t come out on top next year?
A lot has been made of the fact that Mark said he felt the team do not support him emotionally in the same way they do Sebastian. Fine, I have said before I know where he is coming from in this regard. And there is no denying that Sebastian is the perfect fit for Red Bull. But the fact is Mark gets equal treatment and Red Bull will take even more encouragement from their success using that strategy this year.
There are 119 days before the next season kicks off and he will go away and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. He will come back stronger.
So will Sebastian. This boy has the lot but as I alluded before what I like most about him is his maturity, his sincerity and his openness.
Those virtues about to be tested to the max.
We just switched planes in Munich and saw a news bulletin in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel was knocked off top spot by his title triumph. Arriving in Salzburg we were met by a full-on Austrian Oompah band. On Monday it was dinner with the Red Bull factory workers, on Tuesday we flew to Milton Keynes to celebrate with the race team. The party is just getting started.
I have no doubt Sebastian will take it all in his stride. Like Jenson Button before him, he will be a great ambassador for the sport.
This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.