SEPANG, Malaysia, April 4 – Sebastian Vettel's broad grin and sense of mischief summed up his joy on Sunday as he celebrated victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, a win that ended Red Bull's faltering start to the season.
The 22-year-old German came home first ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, 33, in a one-two triumph that erased their disappointment after flops in the season opening races in Bahrain and Australia.
"What a day," said Vettel. "Saturday was extremely difficult because of the rain, but we did the job and today we had a magnificent car.
"The key once again was to pace yourself, but Bridgestone did a good job bringing two compounds (of tyres) here that worked fairly well.
"So, at the end of the day its a very good result for us and for myself after two races where I didn’t finish where I wanted to be.
"It was crucial for the team not to panic and to stay relaxed. It is a long season, but this is the best result we could get — and on top of that Mark getting second place is a big plus for the team and a lot of points."
The Red Bull team had set the pace in both opening races with Vettel on pole and leading each time only to be deprived of good results due to a spark plug failure and then a loose wheel nut.
He had looked like winning each race until those problems struck.
This time he had a faultless afternoon and produced a near-perfect race that hoisted him up to level second with Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari in the drivers title race.
Vettel had qualified third, but snatched the lead with a dazzling start and a dive past Webber, who was on pole, through the opening corner.
"I realised straight away I had a good start. I passed Nico (Rosberg), was alongside and got the tow from Mark and was able to gain, gain, gain," he said.
"It’s a long sprint into Turn One so I had a clear advantage over him. I took the chance I had into Turn One and it was quite late and I just made it.
"Mark had a bit of better exit out of Turn Two and into Turn Three. It was a bit slippy, we both tried to push, and each fighting among ourselves, but we kept respect.
"If Mark was in my position he would have done the same."
Webber agreed with his 11-years junior team-mate and said: "We know these days, with the strategy, and the way the race unfolds, the first part of a race is crucial.
"I got a little bit of wheel-spin and on the run to the first corner, Seb had a big tow.
"I didn’t really know where Nico was either, I didn’t know whether to go middle or left, so I braked late, I had a bit of a better exit and the fight continued up to Turn Four.
"We had a chat with Christian Horner at the start and he said ‘behave yourselves’ — so we did. The spirit and chemistry in our team is awesome. It was a good fight today but he deserved the victory.
"First and second is sensational."