World champion Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to tie Michael Schumacher’s record of seven straight race victories in a Formula One season.
Yesterday’s win emphasized Vettel’s dominance a week after he sealed his fourth straight drivers’ title. His Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in the 55-lap day-night race at the Yas Marina circuit, with Nico Rosberg of Mercedes third.
“I remember when I was a small kid watching F-1 and Michael was with Ferrari and dominating F-1 and had a very strong car, and strong team spirit for many years,” Vettel, 26, told reporters. “To equal some of the stuff he managed to achieve is very special, not just for me but the whole team.”
Vettel’s 11th win in 17 Grands Prix this season tied his tally from his second championship-winning season in 2011. With races in the U.S. and Brazil remaining, Vettel is on target to match Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a single season set in 2004, when he also won seven in a row.
Vettel, starting second on the grid yesterday, went past pole-sitter Webber and never looked like surrendering the lead, finishing more than 30 seconds ahead of his teammate.
Rosberg also got past Webber at the start before the Australian fought back to claim second spot.
Rosberg fell back, though overhauled Romain Grosjean of Lotus to finish third. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fifth ahead of Paul Di Resta of Force India and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez of McLaren and Force India’s Adrian Sutil rounded out the 10 scoring positions.
Kimi Raikkonen lost ground on Alonso in the chase to finish runner-up in the world championship. The Lotus driver started last after being disqualified in qualifying and exited the race in the first lap with a broken suspension.
Vettel marked his victory by performing “donut” spins, after being fined for a similar celebration at the last race in India. He said he hoped he wouldn’t be penalized this time.
“This time I bought the car back, so it’s fine,” said Vettel. “The car was absolutely brilliant. I was flying at some stages, at least it felt like it. Massive gaps, a big surprise.”
Vettel has 347 points atop the standings ahead of Alonso with 217 and Raikkonen on 183.
Red Bull, which already clinched the constructors’ event for a fourth straight year, moved to 513 points. Mercedes has 334 and Ferrari 323.
Vettel last week became the youngest driver to win four straight drivers’ titles, a feat achieved previously by his fellow German Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina.
The next event, the 18th on the 19-race calendar, is the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin on Nov. 17.
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