Bartels: 'This championship win is something special'
The Vitaphone Maserati pair of Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels were crowned the 2010 FIA GT1 world champions after finishing 12th in the Qualifying Race in San Luis.
Their closest rivals, Darren Turner and Tomas Enge in the Young Driver AMR Aston Martin No.7 needed to finish in the top three to keep alive their hopes of the title. They finished 10th thus ensuring that the Maserati duo clinched the crown.
Vitaphone also wrapped up the teams' title.
Here's what the champions had to say ...
Michael Bartels, Vitaphone Maserati, No.1
"This championship is not comparable with the last few championships. We have one or two teams we were up against in previous years but this year we had a top level of drivers and teams pushing us all the time.
"It is really satisfying to know we came out on top against some very strong competition in what is a very exciting and challenging championship.
"We had new rules to adapt to, we had to redevelop the car for the 2010 regulations so it wasn't easy. We probably won't realize it today but when we are back in Europe it will sink in that it is something special.
"In the last few races with the lead we had it was expected that we would win but we had to make sure we didn't make any crazy mistakes because mathematically we could have thrown it away. We were not fighting for the last metre to the chequered flag but we still had to bring it home.
"I remember in 2007 in Zolder we had to finish third to win the championship by two points. This was more under control but it was a big team effort right from the beginning. In Abu Dhabi and Silverstone we were not so competitive but we kept our minds focused and concentrated and we took our chances when they came.
"We always collected our points and when we had our chances we won races. We made one or two less mistakes than our rivals and if you do that you are there. The Qualifying and Qualifying Races were really important. In the middle of the season when we had our run and we collected a lot of points on Saturday, that was the key because they were free of charge -- no weight.
"After a victory in the Championship Race and you pick up (success ballast) weight for the next race you are not so competitive.
"One of the advantages we had as divers was that me and Andrea we know each other so well, we know when to push and when to take it easy and bring the car home. We have a blind understanding between us. No is jealous of the other we one is quickest and the other way around. We do our job in a very disciplined style and we get rewards."
Andrea Bertolini, Vitaphone Maserati, No.1
"It was a really long, hard season with two races each weekend and the new short format which tests the drivers and the pit crews. Our team was very focussed, they check every detail, they are very professional about what they do and this makes the job for Michael and me that little bit easier because we know when we get in the car everything will work the best it can.
"This new world championship is a really exciting format, very high class racing by teams who know what it takes to be competitive and what it takes to win.
"It's one of the nicest championships I have been involved with. It is an excellent show. Now we have to take it to the next level and tell the world about it. To win this championship with the new format makes me very happy - and relieved.
"Even when we had weight like 40 kilos we scored points and kept our challenge going. For me, working with Maserati is like being with a family. They give me the motivation just like I had with my time with Ferrari.
"It has been a pleasure again to work with the Vitaphone team. They are a great group every member of the team is very motivated to do the best job they can.
"They deserve this championship for being professional for the whole season and doing a great job to have the car well prepared and for their great work in the pit stops.
"Now I want to get home to my wife and my son who I haven't seen for 16 days and celebrate with them."