Vettel on course for fourth title and to rewrite Formula 1 record books

Sebastian Vettel eyeing his fourth worldtitle and a myriad of F1 records in the process

Sebastian Vettel eyeing his fourth World title and a myriad F1 records in the process

With Sebastian Vettel’s fourth successive Formula 1 title now just a formality, the more intriguing question is whether the Red Bull driver can go on to match a record that has stood for 60 years.

The 26-year-old should become the sport’s youngest quadruple champion in India next week with the German 90 points clear of Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso, the only man still mathematically in contention, with just four races remaining.

After winning Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel need only finish fifth at the Buddh Circuit to be sure of the title. He will not need to score another point if Alonso fails to finish first or second.

The Champion has won the last five races and is on his way to closing out the season with nine successive victories, a feat only one driver has ever managed – Italian Alberto Ascari, with Ferrari in 1952-53.

Sebastian Vettel with Christian Horner

Sebastian Vettel with Christian Horner

“Sebastian has won every race since the summer break, which is an incredible achievement. There’s still four races to go,” Red Bull principal Christian Horner told reporters.

“Our target is to try to carry this momentum into the last four races. I don’t think any of us could have imagined that he would have had the run of success that he has. The way he’s driving at the moment is quite supreme.”

Vettel is only the sixth driver to win five times in succession, the most recent being Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004 when the seven-time champion went on to win seven in a row.

Schumacher also holds the record of 13 wins in a season, another milestone that Vettel can match after taking his current tally for the year to nine with a performance that Horner hailed as exemplary.

Asked whether he would rather join Schumacher and the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to have won four successive titles, or win every race on the calendar, Vettel said he preferred the second option.

Sebastian Vettel won his ninth race of the 2013 season at Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel won his ninth race of the 2013 season at Suzuka

“You know, I love racing,” he said. “It’s incredible what has happened over the last couple of years but nothing has changed in the way that I still love racing. I love the challenge.”

The German had dropped to third at the first corner of the race at Suzuka, after being pipped to pole by Australian team mate Mark Webber and then overtaken at the start by Romain Grosjean’s Lotus while racing against Mercedes‘s Lewis Hamilton.

A two-stop strategy, with Webber switched to three, then brought the race to him.

“He picked up a bit of damage from the incident with Hamilton that took about 20 points of downforce off the front wing, so he had a damaged car,” said Horner.

“And he just managed to adapt. He played the thinking game…he watched, he waited in that first stint. He preserved the tyres.

Sebastian Vettel during the Japanese GP weekend

Sebastian Vettel during the Japanese GP weekend

“He knew he wasn’t going to get priority at that first stop because we had discussed it before the race and the lead car would get priority. So he was very, very smart in the way [that] he handled the race.”

Sunday’s win was Vettel’s fourth in five years at Suzuka and that wealth of experience also paid off.

In 2011, when he won his second title at the Japanese circuit, he had led only to be reeled in late in the race by those who had more left in their tyres. Vettel ended up third.

“We lapped slower than the others who were on fresh tyres in order to push them later in the race,” he said on Sunday.

“We had a similar race in 2011, where I think I came in always as the first and I was under enormous pressure towards the end of the race and got passed by two cars. So this time we did it the other way around.”

Sebastian Vettel won his first of three F1 world titles in 2010

Sebastian Vettel won his first of three F1 world titles in 2010

The title will have to wait a few more days but it was always a long shot for Suzuka, depending on Vettel winning and Alonso finishing outside the top eight, even if Red Bull’s domination this season has been such that some observers clearly felt that they should have wrapped it up.

“I am absolutely gutted to have achieved a one-two finish in one of the best races strategically and operationall …the whole team is massively pissed off,” joked an incredulous Horner when it was put to him that he might be feeling disappointed.

“We came here to try and win the race today and the Championships will take care of themselves. We’ll go to India and we’ll attack that weekend as we have here and if we score more points than the others then we’ll win the Championship.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • the fan

    do they also have a mark webber championship shirt back in 2010 just in case he won in abu dhabi? if i remember correctly, vettel has the slightest chance of winning the title back then and they have a shirt for it. alonso-webber-vettel… in that order

  • fools

    I respect the driver but I’m not convinced nor impressed. Many agree and so does the F1 paddock. Hell, if everyone agreed they would be on the comment section flooding it with trolls etc praising the Vettel and RB. But they dont… Just goes to show no on really is impressed other then RB.

    If this article said ALONSO, there would be at least 10 plus comments. I wonder why… :)

  • Damon

    Go Vettel, go!!! We love you with all our hearts!!!

  • Tinto

    @Fools and others: A few ‘trolls’ opinion, of course no so smart like many on this forum…

    Stirling Moss: “Vettel is a modern Fangio, really, in Formula 1. I can’t see, other than his natural ability, how he is that good, how he can be that good,” 

    Murray Walker: “For a man to be that much ahead every time, every race, whatever the circuit, whatever the conditions… he is just in a class of his own, as was (Juan Manuel) Fangio really. As was (Ayrton) Senna. I didn’t have a problem with what Sebastian did in Malaysia (defying team orders to pass his team mate)”

    Niki Lauda: “Those who claim that Sebastian Vettel’s success is only due to his car have no idea. “These people don’t understand what the guy is doing,” “I honestly take my hat off at his performance because the guy was leading the race from the first lap on, out-drove everybody, he could have lapped everybody.”

  • Nemo

    He sure is one of the all time greats.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “I respect the driver but I’m not convinced nor impressed. Many agree and so does the F1 paddock.”

    I see this lame argument being trotted out a lot by the Vettel critics. Supposedly something called “the paddock” is just not impressed with Vettel. How do the critics know what “the paddock thinks? This is just a pathetic attempt to give their own views a veneer of respectability by suggesting that those “in the know” agree with them.

    The thing is, everybody who actually is “in the know” and who is willing to go on record says the exact opposite and speaks very highly of Vettel. Just in the last week we saw both Kimi and Hamilton describe Vettel as a “great champion”.

    The only people keeping up this “I’m not impressed” nonsense are a small but noisy and ill-informed group of fans.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “If this article said ALONSO, there would be at least 10 plus comments. I wonder why”

    Yes, I’m sure if we saw an article saying that Alonso was on course for his fourth world championship, there would be a LOT of comments. Of course most of them would be along the lines of “Huh?” and “WTF?” and “Who wrote this?”.

  • fools

    ill-informed…. lol.

    your ignorant for that one.