FOUR-TIME world champion Sebastian Vettel admitted last night that he is stunned by his own dominance of Formula One, after setting a fresh record of eight consecutive Grand Prix victories in a single season.
Starting on pole for the eighth time this year, Vettel led yesterday’s US Grand Prix from the front to finish over six seconds ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Vettel’s fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber beat Britain’s Lewis Hamilton to third.
“I don’t know how I do it if I’m honest,” Vettel said. “It’s impossible to know what to say. I want to say thanks to the crowd. It’s unbelievable to have more than 100,000 here on a Sunday in only our second year.”
The 26-year-old German has won every race following F1’s August holiday, breaking a record for straight victories in one season held by his boyhood hero Michael Schumacher and legendary 1950s racer Alberto Ascari.
And Vettel will have the chance to match another record this weekend. Victory at the final race of the season, in Brazil, will see him equal Ascari’s record of nine straight wins, which was set over two seasons.
An emotional Vettel described his Red Bull car as “fantastic” after the race. “We have to remember these days,” he told the team through his in-car radio. “There’s no guarantee they will last. I love you guys.”
The world title winner’s start in Austin had been a little sluggish, however, with Grosjean and Hamilton sweeping past Webber at the first corner and swarming behind Vettel. Yet Vettel held off the challenge and, after a safety car had intervened, pulled away to a near two-second gap just one lap into the restart.
Despite his excellent start, Hamilton was caught by the superior car of Mark Webber and re-overtaken on lap 13.
Meanwhile, the Ferrari of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was creeping up, having started sixth. With just over 10 laps to go Alonso performed a clever pass on Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg to set up a chase of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Yet fellow title- winner Hamilton was able to maintain a gap.
“To finally have a half decent qualifying, move forward, utilise the tyres and have life left in them, makes me really, really happy,” Hamilton said.
US GRAND PRIX
The result from Austin, Texas
1. S Vettel (Red Bull), 1hr 39m 17s
2. R Grosjean (Lotus), 1hr 39m 23s
3. M Webber (Red Bull), 1hr 39m 25s
4. L Hamilton (Mercedes), 1hr 39m 44s
5. F Alonso (Ferrari), 1hr 39m 47s
6. N Hulkenberg (Sauber), 1hr 39m 48s
7. S Perez (McLaren), 1hr 40m 03s