Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel clinched the World Championship in the "right way," reckons boss Christian Horner, after the team refused to throw its weight behind one driver this year.
Despite criticism in recent weeks that Red Bull was risking throwing away the drivers' crown by not backing its then lead man, Mark Webber, the outfit stood firm in allowing both drivers to keep racing. That decision ultimately paid off with Vettel taking the crown by just four points from Fernando Alonso – just a week after Red Bull could so easily have sacrificed seven points for the German by ordering him to give up the win for Webber in Brazil.
"I always said nobody had a crystal ball," said Horner when asked by AUTOSPORT whether there was some relief that his team's tactics had paid off. "I believe it has been won the right way, and it has been down to what they did on the track.
"We took a bit of stick on the way for not having switched them last week, but we have always believed in supporting both guys equally – and that is the way we go racing. It has been won the right way. But compliments to all of our competitors, Ferrari and McLaren, with Fernando, Lewis and Jenson. They have been great competitors and it has been a fantastic season for F1. They have pushed each other to the limit, which is perhaps why there have been a few more mistakes than previous years, but we have done it our way and I am just absolutely elated with achieving a double World Championship."
Horner said the stress on the pit wall in the closing stages of the race was hard to take, as flashbacks from the late-race heartbreak in Korea were still fresh in the team's mind.
"It was unbearable because we had been in that position a few times this season and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory – with Korea less than one month ago," said Horner. "I actually forgot to breathe at one point during the last five laps. I think Sebastian was the coolest of all of us. How these guys watch the big television while they go around is beyond me.
"To have won the drivers' World Championship and the constructors' is just a phenomenal, phenomenal performance by every single member of the team."
Horner also admitted that there would have been some sadness if the team had left Abu Dhabi without having added the drivers' crown to its constructors' success.
"The constructors' is the big one for the team, and while the drivers' is the big one also for the team, the prestige goes with the drivers'. We would have been a bit disappointed if we had not walked away with the drivers, but last week was an unbelievable achievement. This one is the icing on the cake and Sebastian Vettel – F1 World Champion at 23 years of age – has a very, very bright future ahead of him."