Vettel wins Abu Dhabi GP for 7th straight victory
'Obviously, winning is very special,' Vettel said. 'Seven races in a row - every single one is tough.' Starting from second on the grid, Vettel overtook his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber on the first turn and was untroubled after that.other Updated: Nov 04, 2013 09:01 IST
World champion Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in dominant fashion Sunday to clinch a seventh straight victory and 11th of the season.
Although the German had already clinched his fourth consecutive world title at the Indian GP last weekend, he proved beyond any doubt that his thirst for victory is unquenchable.
"Obviously, winning is very special," Vettel said. "Seven races in a row - every single one is tough."
Starting from second on the grid, Vettel overtook his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber on the first turn and was untroubled after that.
He beat second-placed Webber by 30.8 seconds and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg by 33.6 seconds. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was fourth and two-time former champion Fernando Alonso finished fifth - although stewards were investigating the Spaniard for a passing move on Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne late on.
Vettel now has 37 career race wins and, with two races left, can still match Michael Schumacher's single-season record of 13 wins in 2004 - during which the German also won seven in a row. Schumacher also won 11 races in 2002.
Vettel looked stunned when told he had just matched Schumacher's run of seven wins in a row in one campaign.
"I remember watching Formula One as a kid (when) Michael was dominating for Ferrari," Vettel said.
Vettel can set a single-season record with eight straight at the United States Grand Prix in two weeks' time. Then, victory at the season-ending Brazilian GP a week later will see him match Italian Alberto Ascari's long-standing overall record of nine straight, spanning the 1952-53 seasons.
"People see seven races they don't see the challenge it takes every race to nail it," Vettel added. "We got everything right, pit stops, reliability. The numbers aren't that important to me but equally they make me very, very proud."
Moments after winning, Vettel jogged over to his waiting parents.
"I have spent most of my life racing in front of them as a kid, the cars are a bit bigger now but I am so pleased they are here to see me today," Vettel said. "They taught me lots of good things and one day I want to pass that on to my children."
Just like last weekend, Vettel celebrated the win with a few screeching doughnuts on the Yas Marina circuit. He was fined last time, but is unlikely to care too much.
Webber's last win was at the British GP in July last year and the 37-year-old never looked like making it 10 career wins.
The Australian has never been known for his pure speed and made a poor start, allowing Vettel to pass him on the outside on turn one as Rosberg came up from fifth to second.
"The start wasn't great and Nico got an unbelievable start," Webber said. "I would have liked the win but I matched my best result here. There are plenty of Aussie fans here so thank you."
Overall it was a good day for Mercedes in the battle with Ferrari for second place in the constructors' championship.
"Our aim for the weekend was to be best of the rest," Rosberg said. "I was very happy to hear that we took some more points from them."
Red Bull has already won the constructors' title with 513 points. Mercedes is next with 334 points to Ferrari's 323.
"The most important thing is to finish second in the constructors' championship, not only financially but also motivationally for the team," Rosberg said.
Force India driver Paul di Resta finished sixth ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Qualifying and the race itself are held at twilight here, allowing the track to cool and the drivers to avoid the stifling daytime heat.
Before the race started Hamilton experienced problems with his rear right brake, prompting a flurry of activity from Mercedes mechanics.
But Kimi Raikkonen's day proved even more difficult with the Finn retiring on lap one with suspension damage.
"The Caterham only touched a little bit the front wheel, but the angle was so bad it damaged my suspension," Raikkonen said.
The 2007 world champion threatened not to race at all because Lotus has not paid his wages all year. Then he qualified fifth only to be demoted to the back of the grid after his car failed a post-qualifying inspection because of an illegal floor.
As Vettel pulled away, Webber complained over race radio that his KERS power-boosting system was not working properly, costing him valuable seconds each lap as Grosjean pressured him from behind.
They pitted at the same time, switching to medium tires, allowing Massa and Alonso to move up to second and third, respectively, as the Ferrari drivers stayed out.
Vettel's lead was so commanding that he could take his first pit stop and still come out comfortably ahead of the Ferraris.
Webber showed some slick driving to go around Rosberg to pull back into second place, but he was still a massive 27 seconds behind Vettel by the midway point.
"My pace wasn't too bad after that, but Seb was well and truly gone," Webber said.
With 10 laps to go, Alonso went off the track after nearly colliding with Vergne's Toro Rosso. Stewards were investigating whether he stayed within the track limits.
Alonso has not won a race since the Spanish GP in May, but with Raikkonen out he did at least consolidate his second place in the drivers' standings.