Sebastian Vettel says he hopes the "tough lessons" he took on board during his title-winning 2010 campaign will help make him an even better driver and person next season.
The Red Bull Racing driver was officially crowned as Formula 1 champion at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Monaco on Friday night – as he collected his trophy at the star-studded event from FIA president Jean Todt.
And although overjoyed at seeing his name etched onto the drivers' award, Vettel has said his focus is already on becoming even stronger next year so he can keep hold of it.
"I hope there is much more to come," Vettel told AUTOSPORT in his first interview since collecting his World Champion trophy. "I want to become a better driver and a better person, but I think this year has been a very tough lesson, but with a very sweet outcome in the end."
One of the toughest aspects of Vettel's 2010 campaign was his sometimes troubled relationship with teammate Mark Webber, with the flash points being their on-track collision in Turkey and the off-track spat at Silverstone over a new front wing that was put on the German's car.
Despite their troubles, it emerged at the end of the season that Vettel never wavered from being a team player – as highlighted at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he tried to give Webber a head start at a safety car restart so he could bring more points home for the constructors' title. However, in doing so, he was given a drive-through penalty for not having stayed close enough to his teammate.
Vettel never mentioned his intentions at the time, as the incident was put down a mistake, but he has now finally acknowledged what happened. When asked what he was willing to say about it, Vettel said: "Well, I think I learned a lesson. Obviously, as you can see from the pictures, I was obviously very disappointed because things did not go according to plan. I threw away a win..."
Speaking about his role as a team player, and whether he felt people appreciated it, Vettel said: "I am who I am. I don't need to make any talk about that.
"I didn't do it all year and I won't do it now – it is not the time. In the end, I learned a lot this year and what matters most is when you get back, either to a hotel or to home, and finally you can face yourself in the mirror and know exactly what happened. You have to understand it yourself and deep down in your heart you have to know what is going on. That is more important than whatever people think, or they write or say. In the end, it is impossible to please everybody.
"Sometimes it might be seen from a different angle, but as long as you know for yourself, then that is all that matters. I don't want to make any speeches now, because I haven't done all year, and it's not the time to."
Vettel said that he was now looking forward to having a bit of time to relax over the holidays, having had a packed schedule since the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. When asked if a break was important for him, he said: "Yes, for sure. Also to get the energy obviously for next year.
"At the beginning of this season, I was printing out pictures of this trophy, because as a sportsman you look ahead. So this is a very, very nice souvenir, and very special, but you always look forward to the next step."