"It's a big honour. It's one of the most special trophies I have received," Vettel told a packed audience at the Istana Budaya centre following a ceremony yesterday, filled with tributes to the ones affected by the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mishap.
The 26-year-old German, youngest to win four F1 World Championship titles, was selected by Laureus Academy members ahead of Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal and LeBron James.
Vettel had been in the past nominated for the award five times, but missed out on each occasion.
"Receiving nominations itself is a great honour, especially alongside the greatest athletes on the planet. So winning it is truly very, very special. It is truly a very special moment. To share the stage with the legendary members is memorable," Vettel said.
"When I was a young kid and started competing, I fell in love with my sport and fell in love with racing and fell in love with the fact that if you do well, at the end of the race you receive a trophy.
"It's still one of the main things that drives me today - to hold a trophy at the end of the race and to be on the podium," he said.


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