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Vettel roars into history

Updated: 2013-10-29 07:28
By Agence France-Presse in Greater Noida, India ( China Daily)

German becomes F1's youngest four-time champion after another dominant win in India

Sebastian Vettel roared into the history books as Formula One's youngest four-time champion and celebrated in outlandish style after a superlative win at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Pole-sitter Vettel pitted early to change his soft tires but then scythed through the field to beat Mercedes's Nico Rosberg by 30 seconds, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean third.

The 26-year-old Vettel becomes the youngest man to win four straight titles, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher the only other drivers to achieve the feat.

Vettel roars into history

And despite teammate Mark Webber's retirement with a mechanical problem, Team Red Bull also sealed its fourth straight constructors' title with three races to go.

"Unbelievable day," the jubilant Vettel shouted over the team radio. "We did it! Yes! Yes!"

"You've done it in style," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said on the radio as Vettel raced past the checkered flag. "Brilliant drive! You join the greats!"

With his fourth championship, achieved with 10 wins this season, Vettel equals French great Alain Prost on the all-time list with only Fangio (five) and Schumacher (seven) ahead of him.

He celebrated jubiliantly by spinning doughnuts for a cacophonous grandstand, and then leapt on top of his car and saluted his fans.

The exuberant scene earned Vettel a reprimand and Red Bull a 25,000 euros fine for not heading straight off the circuit, as demanded by F1 rules.

Vettel roars into history

But that was of little concern to the emotional Vettel, who was hoisted onto the shoulders of Rosberg and Grosjean on the champagne-sprayed podium and called it the "best day of my life".

"I am speechless. I spent ages thinking what to say; there is so much you want to say at a time like that," he said.

"It is a pleasure to jump in the car and go out and drive for the guys and give it all I have. The car was phenomenal today and has been phenomenal all season, to be honest.

"I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is behind the team. It has not been an easy season. From the outside, people will think it was easy ... but it wasn't."

Vettel said the enthusiastic applause from the Indian crowd was particularly sweet after he was unsportingly jeered after winning in Belgium, Italy and Singapore.

"It has been hard for me to be booed when I have not done anything wrong. It was hard, but I think I answered the things on the track, which I am very pleased about," he said.

"I am overwhelmed. I don't know what to say - but it is the best day of my life so far."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who was Vettel's nearest challenger going into the race at 90 points back, managed only 11th place.

Vettel's sixth win in a row, 10th in 16 races this season and 36th of his career left him poised to shatter more records in the remaining three races in Abu Dhabi, the US and Brazil.

If he wins all three, Vettel will equal Schumacher's record of 13 wins in 2004 and become the only driver to secure nine consecutive victories in a season.

Italian Alberto Ascari drove a Ferrari for nine straight wins, but his run was spread over two seasons in 1952 and 1953.

Vettel, who won the Indian race in both 2011 and 2012, once again dominated with record times in all three practice sessions this year and a perfect qualifying round on Saturday.

He made a quick change to medium tires after the second lap and dropped to the back of the field, but he returned to second place by the 21st lap behind Webber.

Vettel regained the lead in the 30th lap but then saw Webber drop out of the race two-thirds of the way through due to gearbox problems.

As Vettel assumed control in familiar fashion, his team took no chances in the pit lane and at one stage even admonished him after setting a fastest lap.

"It is an amazing day. Words fail me for what Seb has done for the last four years," said Horner.

"It is gutting on the day we win the constructors' championship that Mark Webber didn't finish and make it one-two."

The impressive crowd of 65,000 at Buddh International Circuit would have pleased the organizers, who hope to return to Formula One in 2015 after being left out of the 2014 calendar.

(China Daily 10/29/2013 page23)

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