Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Newly-crowned four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed his seventh consecutive victory with a superb performance in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Vettel overtook his Red Bull teammate and pole sitter Mark Webber in the first turn of the opening lap and then was unstoppable from there. The 26-year-old German led all 55 laps at Yas Marina Circuit. He crossed the finish line 30.8 seconds ahead of Webber for his third win in the first five Abu Dhabi GPs. His previous victories here came in 2009 and '10.
"It's incredible," Vettel said. "The car was absolutely brilliant. I was flying at some stages, at least it felt like it. I had massive gaps. It was a big surprise. Big thanks to the team."
Vettel became the fourth driver in F1 history to win seven or more grand prix in a row. His fellow German compatriot, Michael Schumacher, most recently won seven straight races in 2004. Jim Clark accomplished the feat in 1965. Alberto Ascari holds the record for most consecutive victories with nine, doing so from the tail end of the 1952 season through the early part of the 1953 season.
Last weekend, Vettel clinched his fourth successive F1 championship with the win in the Indian Grand Prix. Red Bull also captured its quadruple constructors' title. Vettel has won 11 of the first 17 grand prix this season. He also claimed his 37th career victory.
The Nov. 17 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas and the Nov. 24 Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo are the remaining races on this year's schedule. If Vettel wins both of those events, he would not only tie Ascari's record of consecutive wins but also match Schumacher's record of 13 victories in a season, set in '04.
"Winning is very special, obviously with seven races in a row," Vettel said. "I remember when I was a small kid watching Formula One, and Michael was with Ferrari and dominating Formula One. To equal some of the stuff that they managed to achieve is very, very special, not just for me but also the whole (Red Bull) team."
Red Bull has now finished 1-2 in a F1 grand prix 15 times.
"Sebastian was in another category today, so probably this was the maximum result for us, even if we got away in front," Webber said after his second- place finish. "He was quick and very, very strong."
Nico Rosberg from Mercedes finished third, while Lotus' Romain Grosjean took the fourth spot. Grosjean's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, who won the Abu Dhabi GP one year ago, had his race come to an end on the first lap when he sustained damage to his front suspension.
"There was some contact in front of me through the first corner, so I stuck to the inside, but unfortunately one of the Caterhams touched my front wheel and it broke the track rod," said Raikkonen, who was the only driver who retired in this race. "It wasn't a heavy impact, but the angle made it worse."
Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 world champion, had to start from the back of the grid since he was excluded from Saturday's qualifying. His Lotus failed a post- qualifying floor deflection test. He had finished fifth in qualifying.
"It's never easy starting so far back on the grid, but after the penalty, it was a better choice to help our chances in the race rather than starting from the pit lane," he said. "After a difficult start to the weekend, we did well (Saturday), so it was a shame we couldn't start where we qualified, but these things happen sometimes. It's just back luck."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who is second in the point standings, finished fifth. Late in the race, Alonso aggressively rejoined the track after his last pit stop, passing Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in what appeared to be a maneuver outside of track limits. Stewards investigated the incident following the conclusion of the race but decided to take no action against Alonso.
Vettel's points advantage over Alonso increased to 130.