Sebastian Vettel won Formula One’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year and equaling the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari.
Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in his final Formula One race and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third.
The win capped an impressive year by Vettel, who had already broken Schumacher’s 2004 mark of seven straight wins in a year at the US Grand Prix the previous weekend. Schumacher’s 13 wins also came in 2004.
Ascari’s mark of nine straight victories was achieved in the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
“I think it is very difficult for me to realize, probably now and in the next couple of weeks, what we have achieved again, and in particular this year at the end of the season,” Vettel said. “At the end of the day, as I see it now, it’s just a number, but hopefully one day, when I’ve got less hair and [I’m] chubby, then it’s probably something nice to look back.”
The 26-year-old Vettel clinched the title at the Indian Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver to win four world championships.
“I’m actually quite sad that this season comes to an end,” Vettel said. “The car has been phenomenal. It just kept getting better. I’m extremely proud.”
Vettel was overtaken by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes at the start, but regained the lead on the second lap and cruised to his second victory in Brazil and the 39th of his career. He crossed the line 10.4 seconds in front of Webber.
“Yes, we did it,” Vettel said on his radio, before his now-traditional doughnut celebration of spinning the car.
Vettel had to overcome a slow pit stop near the end of the race, but remained in front thanks to a big lead over Webber. The team changed strategy at the last minute and only had three tires ready when Vettel came in. Webber was right behind and had to wait until the crew finished the work on Vettel’s car.
Webber, who had won two of the previous four races in Brazil, took his helmet off as he returned to the pits and waved to the crowd. The team wrote “Awesome. Thank you Mark,” on the pit sign as the Australian crossed the finish line.
“It was a very good finish to my career,” Webber said. “It was a great journey, one of which I’m proud of.”
Webber is joining Porsche in a sports car series next year.
The 37-year-old Australian spent 12 seasons in Formula One, winning nine times and reaching the podium 42 times in 215 starts. His second place on Sunday allowed him to finish third in the drivers’ standings, repeating his feat of 2010 and 2011.
Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren’s best finish of the season. Rosberg was fifth after starting behind Vettel on the front row and Mexico’s Sergio Perez finished sixth after starting 19th in his final race with McLaren.
No McLaren driver had reached the podium or finished higher than fifth going into the season finale.
Alonso, who had already secured second place in the drivers’ standings, said he was hoping for a wet track at the end of the race.
“Unfortunately, the rain didn’t come,” Alonso said. “We were more competitive in wet conditions. It seemed it would start raining any moment, but it didn’t.”
It was the first time this weekend that drivers raced on a dry track at Interlagos after the three practice sessions and qualifying were run in wet conditions. Light rain fell near the end of the race, but it was not enough to significantly affect the track conditions.
Lewis Hamilton, who had a flat right-rear tire on his Mercedes after contact with Valtteri Bottas of Williams, finished ninth. Hamilton received a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.
Mercedes were still able to hold on to second place in the constructors’ championship, finishing ahead of Ferrari and Lotus. Red Bull had already clinched the title.
Home favorite Felipe Massa, in his final race with Ferrari before joining Williams, finished a disappointing seventh after receiving a drive-through penalty for illegally crossing a pit line while running fourth.
It was the last race before significant engine changes debut next year. Teams have to switch from 2.4 liter V8 engines to a 1.6 liter V6 turbocharged unit, a move that demands significant alterations to the design of cars and makes predictions nearly impossible.