x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Still more honours await world champion Vettel at United States Grand Prix

Record for consecutive victories within sight for German

Sebastian Vettel could set a new Formula One record for consecutive victories if he wins Sunday's United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Mike Stone / Reuters
Sebastian Vettel could set a new Formula One record for consecutive victories if he wins Sunday's United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Mike Stone / Reuters

Many records have been broken by Sebastian Vettel during his seven years in Formula One so far.

Youngest race winner, youngest world champion, youngest four-time world champion, and most pole positions in one season are just some of the honours that Vettel holds.

Another one is set to come his way on Sunday at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Victory at the Circuit of the Americas will give the Red Bull Racing driver his eighth win in a row, which would break the record for most successive wins in one season.

The 26-year-old German matched compatriot Michael Schumacher’s record of seven straight wins, set in 2004, by taking the chequered flag at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks ago, and he can own the record outright with another victory today.

He starts in the ideal position, having clinched pole position in qualifying on Saturday with a last-gasp effort.

The already-crowned world champion lapped the 5.5-kilometre circuit in 1 minute, 36.338 seconds in the dying seconds of the session to usurp teammate Mark Webber from top spot by just 0.103 seconds and claim his eighth pole of the season.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus and the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg will start on the second row, with Lewis Hamilton, who won the first race held in Austin 12 months ago, in fifth spot in his Mercedes-GP ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Heikki Kovalainen made an impressive return to F1 for Lotus as he finished eighth fastest. The Finn is competing in the final two races of 2013 in place of Kimi Raikkonen, who had an operation on his back on Thursday.

The performance of the day came from Valtteri Bottas, who qualified his Williams in the top 10 for only the second time this season as he was ninth quickest.

But unlike Canada in June, where conditions were wet, it was a dry track yesterday, and the achievement of Bottas, who has yet to score a point in his debut season in F1, was made even more impressive by the fact his teammate Pastor Maldonado qualified down in 18th.

Bottas was fastest in the first part of qualifying, fourth in the second part, before falling back in the top-10 shoot-out.

Handling problems meant that Nico Rosberg could do no better than 14th place in his Mercedes, giving the German his worst starting position of the season.

Jenson Button qualified 13th in his McLaren-Mercedes, but he will lose three places on the grid after being penalised by race stewards for overtaking under red flag conditions during the opening practice on Friday.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

11pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 2 & 6