Seb had radio problems in his Red Bull cockpit at various times during 2012, but the issue in Brazil was the message, not the medium.
As the German slowed down following a hectic race that finally clinched the crown, team chief Christian Horner came on to tell him the list of great names who had previously taken the title three times.
“He forgot Alain Prost,” observed Vettel, who at the age of 25 now occupies the same space in the record-books as Schumacher, Fangio, Prost, Senna, Lauda, Piquet, Stewart and of course Sir Jack.
Number three was more like number one than number two, mind you: a late-season burst of four straight wins from Singapore to India carried Vettel clear and sixth place in a dramatic finale at Interlagos – after being turned around and rejoining dead last on the opening lap – took him home.
In most other respects Vettel is rewriting the record books, much as Michael did before him. Sebastian now has 36 pole positions, leaving only Schumi and Senna in front of him; with 26 victories he has only Alonso (30 wins) of the current crop ahead of him, and Fernando has more than five years’ F1 racing more than Vettel under his belt.
Both drivers will probably pass Nigel Mansell (31 wins) this season, leaving only Senna (41), Prost (51) and Schumacher (91!) to catch.
After becoming the youngest man to take the title three times on the bounce, the challenge for Vettel is clear: do it again and again, to emulate Schumacher’s five-time feat of 2000-2004.
But who will he do it with? Rumours persist that he has some kind of agreement with Ferrari, perhaps as early as 2014, but for the time being season five with Red Bull sees Vettel fully focused on a fourth World Championship.