I cannot vouch for Sebastian Vettel keeping his promise to party through the night on Sunday since I flew straight to Tokyo after the race.
But I did see the new double world champion at a press conference in Yokohama on Monday, and he must have hit the booze pretty hard – he planted a kiss on my cheek at one point, as you can see in the above picture.
Good on him. He deserved to let his hair down. Seb has barely put a foot wrong this season, so a few Jägerbombs, or whatever his mechanics lined up for him, were right and proper.
His achievement in winning back-to-back titles has been extraordinary and should not be dismissed or diminished on the grounds of him having what has generally been the fastest car.
'The big question is: how long can Sebastian and Red Bull keep this up?'
You can only race what’s in front of you and Seb has produced the goods week in, week out, making a world class team-mate in Mark Webber look average at times.
The big question is: how long can he and Red Bull keep this up?
Already there have been mutterings that we are witnessing the start of a Ferrari–Schumacher type era of dominance, that the next decade will be one big Red Bull–Vettel fest.
With Seb only 24 and signed to a long-term deal, and with chief technical officer Adrian Newey and team principal Christian Horner similarly married to Milton Keynes, the foundations are there.
And it is a sobering thought for the rest of the grid that, but for Brawn’s double-diffuser in 2009, Seb would likely be celebrating his third consecutive title right now.
'Ferrari and Schumacher had not only a fast car, but a reliable car'
But I don’t see Red Bull pounding everyone into submission like Ferrari did in the early 2000s. The conditions back then were so different.
Firstly, Ferrari cottoned on to something which you would have thought, with all their combined brainpower and expertise, other teams would have cottoned on to. And that was that they had not only a fast car, but a reliable car from the late 1990s through the early 2000s. That was the backbone of their success. These days everyone is pretty reliable.
The second thing is that Ferrari could afford to outspend their rivals back then.
They had their own test track, Mugello, during a time of unlimited testing. Bridgestone, then in competition with Michelin, were producing custom-made tyres for Michael. It was difficult for anyone to compete with that.
Nowadays there is no in-season testing and everyone uses the same tyre supplier. And even if Red Bull could afford to outspend their rivals they are not allowed to; the Resource Restriction Agreement limits the amount of personnel and money teams can spend to go racing. Spending power is not the issue.
Thirdly, let’s not forget that Michael was clearly the number one driver at Ferrari; everything was geared towards him. Often his team-mates simply drove for him. Whatever people may say about Red Bull and their perceived favouritism towards Vettel, not many would question that the Australian receives equal treatment and equal opportunity.
'Newey has proven time and again that he can build a more innovative car than the rest'
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are now in an era when the rules are relatively stable. The reason Red Bull have been dominant for the last three years is because Newey reacted the smartest to the last major set of rule changes in 2009.
Newey has proven time and again that, when handed a clean sheet of paper, he can build a more innovative car than the rest.
But heading into 2012 there are minimal changes. In fact, the one big change could hurt Red Bull more than the rest; the banning of blown diffusers, which Red Bull pioneered and which everyone else has subsequently copied.
This is not the start of the ’Red Bull era’. The last two years have been nothing like 2004 or 2002, when Schumacher won the title with six races to go.
The competition out there is fierce at the moment – just look at the racing. The top four were separated by less than 10 seconds on Sunday and there are five world champions on the grid.
Oh, and if you hadn’t noticed, a McLaren car won the race.
As I said, I flew up to Tokyo after the race and caught up with several of the drivers including the race winner, Jenson Button.
Everyone was singing and letting their hair down and it was great to see. In my view we are in the midst of a new golden era for Formula One, not a return to the dark old days of one team dominating.
Seb and Red Bull just did a much better job this season than anyone else and for that they should be applauded, not criticised.
David Coulthard writes for the Daily Telegraph in the UK, and as well as being co-commentator for the BBC’s Formula One coverage, he is an ambassador for Red Bull Racing.
- Read much more about Vettel's triumph at our Japanese GP event page
- More from DC at davidcoulthard.co.uk
- Official Formula One website at formula1.com