Vettel equals record with ninth consecutive win

Vettel equals record with ninth consecutive win

Sebastian Vettel made it an all-time record-equalling ninth straight victory as he took the chequered flag at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

The four-times world champion has won every single race since Formula One’s summer break in August, matching a 60-year-old feat set by Alberto Ascari, who won the final six races of 1952 and the first three of 1953.

Vettel has also equalled Michael Schumacher’s 2004 haul of 13 wins in a season to complete one of the most dominant campaigns ever witnessed in the sport.

In his 215th and final race in F1 before joining Porsche’s sportscar programme, Mark Webber at least joined his Red Bull team-mate Vettel on the podium with a runner-up finish ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

On lap 11, Rosberg, having complained of problems with his rear tyres and after being told not to hold up Hamilton by team principal Ross Brawn, gave way to the Briton, who moved up to fourth.

Two laps later, and again in the main overtaking zone in front of the pit wall, Webber made it a Red Bull one-two on track by sweeping by Alonso.

After starting 14th, and as one of only two drivers who set off on the hard compound Pirelli tyres, McLaren’s Jenson Button had stormed up to eighth after the first 14 laps.

Rosberg’s tyre woes became apparent again when Massa soon nipped by to move up to fifth on lap 15, the German dropping to 20 seconds behind compatriot Vettel.

With light rain forecast, for many it was a case of trying to stay out on their degrading rubber in the hope of avoiding an unnecessary stop before switching to the intermediate tyres if required.

The window, however, for the first stop was opening, with Massa from fifth and McLaren’s Sergio Perez from ninth taking on new rubber.

They were followed by Button and Hulkenberg from sixth and seventh, along with Force India’s Paul Di Resta from 10th.

Alonso and Hamilton from third and fourth were next in, then Rosberg, and from second on lap 23 it was Webber’s turn for new tyres, albeit incurring a problem that dropped him behind Alonso.

As leader, Vettel was the last of the front-runners to pit, holding on to a comfortable cushion out in front.

After 25 laps Vettel’s lead over Alonso was 10.3secs, although on lap 26 Webber managed to retake second from the Spaniard.

Behind them Massa was narrowly ahead of Hamilton, with Button sixth and Di Resta 12th.

On lap 32 Massa was a handed a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line at the pit entry at a time when he was battling with Hamilton for fourth.

When informed by race engineer Rob Smedley of the penalty, Massa was infuriated as he said over the radio: “Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Unacceptable!”

At the end of lap 35 Massa served his penalty, albeit delivering a double hand wave gesticulation and a shake of the head in frustration, the Brazilian dropping to eighth.

With rain again seemingly drawing in, and the window opening for the second pit stop, after 44 laps Button and Massa again took on medium tyres as they came in from seventh and eighth positions.

They were followed a lap later by Rosberg and Perez from fifth and sixth.

On lap 47 the race turned as Williams’ Valtteri Bottas attempted to unlap himself with Hamilton, only for the duo to bang rear wheels.

Bottas immediately lost the rear-left, while Hamilton suffered a puncture to his rear-right, forcing him to limp around to the pits for a change, albeit sustaining minor floor damage in the process.

While that was happening Vettel suddenly pitted, seemingly catching his pit crew unaware as they were left floundering for a few seconds wondering what to do.

Webber came in behind and had to queue, while from third Alonso was also in for new rubber.

With 20 laps remaining Vettel’s lead had been slashed to 5.5secs to Webber, with Alonso 1.1secs adrift and closing.

With Hamilton down to eighth, the 28-year-old was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Bottas, which he immediately served after 52 laps.

On lap 60 Caterham's Charles Pic became the third to retire when the right-rear suspension appeared to break on his car.

The final 11 laps of the race, however, were run primarily in the dry as spots of rain hung in the air, but not enough to deter Vettel from a record-equalling ninth successive victory, the mark set 60 years ago by Alberto Ascari.

In taking the chequered flag ahead of team-mate Webber, it also matches the 13 in one season set in 2004 by Michael Schumacher.

Alonso completed the podium, with Button giving McLaren their highest finish of the year with fourth, closely followed by Rosberg and Perez in fifth and sixth.

Massa was seventh, followed home by Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Di Resta 11th.

On his parade lap, Webber removed his helmet to acknowledge the acclaim of the crowd, whilst Vettel performed a now customary doughnut, as did Massa on his final outing for Ferrari.

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