SAO PAULO // The chequered flag fell for the last time Sunday evening and it was joined by another record for Sebastian Vettel. At the final grand prix of the 2013 season in Brazil, the youngest four-time world champion also became the first Formula One driver in the sport’s six-decade history to win nine consecutive races in one season.
It was yet another dominant performance by Red Bull Racing’s serial record rewriter, whose 13th win of the season takes him to 39 career victories, two short of Brazilian idol Ayrton Senna’s career haul. He is 26 years old.
Vettel stood on the podium alongside teammate Mark Webber, who finished second to secure Red Bull their third one-two finish at Interlagos in four years, and called his achievement “unbelievable” and “phenomenal”. The margin between the two drivers by the end was more than 10 seconds, with the German’s only scare coming during an uncharacteristic botched pit-stop by his crew.
“I’m actually quite sad this season comes to an end,” said Vettel, who started on pole. “The second half of the season, to win every race, is unbelievable. The car has just kept getting better, so I was able to come back and build a gap. There was some confusion with both cars coming into the pits at the same time and the last few laps were difficult, but I’m extremely proud.”
Nine consecutive race victories has been achieved once before, by Alberto Ascari in the early 1950s. The Italian’s streak, however, stretched over two seasons, while Vettel, in winning every race since August, completed his year with 13 race wins – a feat matched only by Michael Schumacher.
“It is very difficult for me to realise now what we have achieved this year,” Vettel said. “In terms of a certain record with Alberto Ascari, you cannot compare. It is completely differnet time. In the 1950s, the races were much longer and there were a lot of things breaking down. Reliability nowadays is exceptional, so his record stands out a lot. Hopefully one day in the future when I have less hair and am chubby, it will be a nice record to look back on.”
Webber, draped in an Australian flag after securing a 42nd and final podium before retiring from F1, congratulated his teammate, despite their frosty relationship. The 37 year-old driver finished ahead of Fernando Alonso after the two friends endured a thrilling battle in drizzly conditions late in the race.
“A very good finish to my career,” Webber said. “I’ve enjoyed fighting with these guys over my career. I raced with four or five of them today with the exception of Seb, who was a little bit further down the road. But I’m very proud to finish on the podium alongside two of the best guys of this generation. Now, I’m ready to go and do something different.”
While the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships were sewn up weeks ago, the battle of the backmarkers was still alive in the final lap. Marussia retained their dominance over Caterham to ensure they leave Sao Paulo with the lucrative 10th place in the teams’ championship and the reported £20m loot that comes with it.
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