Sebastian Vettel said he wept after winning his third Formula One world title in a row in Sao Paulo at the weekend.

“I cried under my helmet,” he told the daily Bild, adding: “Thank God the radio was broken so nobody could hear my wailing like in 2010.” “Right up until the end I really didn’t know if it would be enough,” the 25-year-old German added. He became the third Formula One driver to complete the hat-trick on Sunday.

In the final stages of the race “I saw images from much earlier, when I was a child sitting in a go-kart ... it was like in Abu Dhabi in 2010,” the Red Bull driver said. “And at the same time you’re still in the middle of the race.”

Two years ago Vettel won the final race of the season to secure the world title — his first — while on Sunday he came sixth, enough to push Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into second place.

He rejected media comparisons with Michael Schumacher, who won the world title seven times. “Schumacher’s records are still unbelievably far away. Comparing me to him is nonsense,” he said.

Vettel also said he did not want to be a role model. “Of course I’m in the spotlight and of course people have expectations. I’m not a saint but I was brought up to be honest ... I want to look in the mirror and say: ‘I like what I see’ and I can do that.”

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