Sebastian Vettel said he did not know he had won the World Championship until he crossed the line at the end of the race in Abu Dhabi.
Formula 1's youngest ever World Champion was in a position to clinch the title from early on in the race, when Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber slipped down the order. But he says his Red Bull team kept him in the dark about the scenario until the very end to make sure he concentrated on winning the race.
"To be honest, I did not know anything," Vettel said. "I wondered. In the last 10 laps, my engineer Rocky [Guillaume Rocquelin] was giving me advice to help me get the car home. I wondered why he was so nervous. I thought we must be in a good position, then he said, 'It's looking good.' I didn't know what he meant. I just focused on myself, and they came on the radio and screamed that we have won the world championship.
"I am a bit speechless, to be honest, I don't know what you're supposed to say in this moment. It is unbelievable. I went to bed and kept thinking about the race, about what might happen. I had some good imaginations and a good feeling."
Vettel reflected on his up and down season, during which he won five times but also lost several good results through accidents and reliability problems. But he says he never lost the belief that he could win the championship.
"We have seen incredible fights and a tight season," he said. "I don't know how many times we have had a different leader. Some people got written off very early and then came back, like Fernando, they came back hard. Lewis [Hamilton] came back and was leading all of us.
"I could write a book about the races where we could have finished in a higher position. There were retirements, all of us had ups and downs. It has been an intense and tough season, sometimes ignoring what people are saying and trying to get your own thing done. This was my approach going into the race and now it's looking good because it all worked.
"It was an incredibly tough season for all us, physically and especially mentally. I kept believing in myself and today was a special day. So I only led the championship once, when it mattered.
"For some reason, it does not feel like it is happening. It's strange, but it will sink in when I finally go to sleep – but I think we will have daylight before that happens."