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Vettel collects Formula One's biggest prize 09 Dec 2011

Red Bull's Christian Horner, McLaren's Jenson Button and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber receive their trophies at the 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India 2011 FIA Formula One World Champion - Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India FIA Formula One World Championship presentation, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India FIA Formula One World Champion - Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India FIA President Jean Todt presents Professor Sid Watkins with the FIA Academy Gold Medal for Motor Sport, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India FIA Formula One World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull and FIA World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone presents Sameer Gaur with the Formula One Promotional Promoter trophy, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India Force India team principal Vijay Mallya presents Ben Gallop of the British Broadcasting Corporation with the Formula One Promotional Broadcast trophy, 2011 FIA Prize Giving Gala, December 9, 2011, New Delhi, India

After a year of triumphs Sebastian Vettel’s closing reward came at the appropriately-named Kingdom of Dreams in New Delhi, India, host venue for this year’s FIA Prize Giving Gala on Friday evening.

The 2011 FIA Formula One World Champion collected the coveted trophy from FIA President, Jean Todt, while Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was presented with the 2011 Constructors’ Trophy by Bernie Ecclestone. Jenson Button and Mark Webber also received awards for second and third places respectively in the drivers’ championship.

“It’s great to be here in India at the FIA Gala to collect my second Drivers’ Championship Trophy,” said Vettel. “I have had the trophy in my house all year and didn’t want to give it back, so this means a great deal to me. It’s hard to put into words how it feels to win again; the team stayed focused and made few mistakes and I would like to thank them for all their impressive efforts. I would also like to thank Renault who worked so hard all year. The history of Formula One means a lot to me and it’s special to know that we are now somehow a part of that.”

Vettel famously never led the 2010 championship until the last day of the season. In 2011 he led from the first day to the last. Along the way he scored victories in Australia, Malaysia, Turkey, Spain and Monaco, at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, in Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea and India. He only finished off the podium twice during the 19 races, took a record-breaking 15 pole positions and three fastest laps. Here in India he became the youngest man to record a grand chelem: taking pole, victory, fastest lap and leading every lap of the race.

Vettel’s successes were mirrored by those of Red Bull Racing, for whom Mark Webber added another victory, seven further fastest laps and three pole positions. The championship tables, however, do not tell the full story of a season in which many of the individual races were closely-fought between the defending champions and their rivals. Vettel, Webber and the team’s management often attributed their accomplishments to the efforts of those at the Red Bull Racing factory and the excellence of their pit crew, regularly timed as the fastest in F1.

“It’s phenomenal what the team has achieved this year,” said Horner upon receiving the Constructors’ Trophy. “To win 12 races and take 18 pole positions and 27 podiums to defend our title is something we are very proud of. I would like to thank every member of the team, including Mark and Sebastian for all their hard work. Receiving the award tonight is fantastic and a great end to what has been an incredible year. Seb’s achievement of becoming a double Formula One world champion is incredible; the fact he is the youngest ever to do this is testament to the exciting young talent that he is.”

Among Friday evening’s other award winners was FIA Institute Honorary President Prof. Sid Watkins, who revolutionised safety and medical standards in motorsport. Watkins received the FIA Academy Gold Medal for Motor Sport, joining a prestigious list of previous recipients including Sir Stirling Moss, Mario Andretti, Sir Jack Brabham, HSH Prince Rainier and Michael Schumacher.

The FIA Gold Medal is awarded to an individual that, either through exceptional success, or outstanding effort, has made a substantial contribution to motor racing. The recipient is selected by the FIA Academy, which is made up of eight senior members of the FIA and its national automobile clubs.

"I'm very proud of the safety developments that have been achieved not just in Formula One but across all levels of motor sport through the work of the FIA and FIA Institute,” said Watkins. “It is an honour to have been awarded the FIA Gold Medal and to be mentioned amongst those great names and I'd like to thank the FIA Academy for acknowledging my small part in racing history."

Jean Todt, FIA President, said: "I would like to express my heart-felt thanks, emotion and warmth to Sid from everyone in the motor sport community and FIA family. This FIA Academy Gold Medal for Motor Sport is in recognition of his outstanding achievements in motor sport and safety throughout a 50-year career."

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