ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — World champion Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in dominant fashion Sunday to clinch a seventh straight victory and 11th of the season.
Although the German had already clinched his fourth consecutive world title at the Indian GP last weekend, he pledged there would be no let up. Starting from second on the grid, Vettel overtook his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber on the first turn and was untroubled after that.
"Obviously, winning is very special," Vettel said. "Seven races in a row — every single one is tough."
He beat second-placed Webber by 30.8 seconds and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg by 33.6 seconds. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was fourth and two-time former champion Fernando Alonso finished fifth — although stewards were investigating the Spaniard for a passing move on Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne late on.
Vettel now has 37 career race wins and, with two races left, can match Michael Schumacher's single-season record of 13 wins in 2004 — during which the German also won seven in a row. Schumacher also won 11 races in 2002.
Vettel looked stunned when told he had just matched Schumacher's run of seven wins in a row in one campaign.
"I remember watching Formula One as a kid (when) Michael was dominating for Ferrari," Vettel said.
Vettel can set a single-season record with eight straight at the United States Grand Prix in two weeks' time. Then, victory at the season-ending Brazilian GP a week later would match Italian Alberto Ascari's long-standing overall record of nine straight, spanning the 1952-53 seasons.
"People see seven races they don't see the challenge it takes every race to nail it," Vettel added. "We got everything right, pit stops, reliability. The numbers aren't that important to me but equally they make me very, very proud."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Vettel over the car radio, "that was a champion's drive,' with the German driver responding with his trademark high-pitched whooping sound.
"It's not often you get to drive a car like this. I love you guys, thank you," Vettel said before climbing out of his car and hugging his waiting parents.