SAO PAULO, Brazil, November 24 – A relentless Sebastian Vettel completed the 2013 Formula One season on a record-breaking high on Sunday when he led Mark Webber home in a commanding Red Bull one-two at a dramatic and emotional Brazilian Grand Prix.
For the 26-year-old German, it was his ninth successive victory since the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July, his 13th of the season and the 39th of his career.
This meant he extended his own record of consecutive wins in a season, equalled Italian Alberto Ascari’s historic record of nine straight wins from 1952-1953 and also equalled Michael Schumacher’s total for one season, set with Ferrari in 2004.
Many fans may have hoped that four-time champion Vettel would slow down and allow Webber, 37, to finish his career with a 10th victory, but instead he maintained his brilliant unbeaten run to come home 10.452 seconds clear of his Australian team-mate.
“I am actually quite sad the season is coming to an end,” said the remarkable Vettel. “The car has been phenomenal and has been getting better in every race.
“It was very difficult at the end today with the rain, but I am extremely proud and a big thanks to the team and a big thanks to Renault as well.
“And thanks, too, to Mark… We didn’t have the best of relationships, but we have always had a lot of respect for each other and we have been a very successful pairing for the team.”
Webber defied his emotions with a show of mature dignity in the closing laps.
“Your last lap, enjoy it,” said Red Bull team chief Christian Horner as the race ended. Webber did and then, after reeling off the fastest lap, took off his helmet and visor to soak up the atmosphere on his slowing down lap.
“It was a good finish to my career,” he said, as a familiar bedlam of joy descended on the Interlagos circuit and pit lane.
“I want to thank Seb, Fernando, Lewis and all the guys who have been in the racing window with me for the last few years.
“I want to thank everyone in Australia and I want to thank everyone who has helped me – they know who they are.”
It was Webber’s 42nd podium finish and came in his 215th and final race.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso took third for Ferrari as the Italian team did their best, but failed to snatch second place in the championship from Mercedes.
Alonso had already claimed second in the drivers’ title race behind Vettel.
“It was a difficult race for everyone,” said Alonso. “The rain did not come and we would have been more competitive in the wet. It seemed like it was going to rain at any time, but it didn’t and it was a shame for us.
“But to finish on the podium means we finish the season on a high. Next year we look forwards.”
Jenson Button, making a British record 247th start, finished fourth for McLaren ahead of Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, Sergio Perez in the second McLaren and Felipe Massa, who marked his final race with Ferrari by finishing seventh in front of his home fans.
Alonso added: “It’s a shame, and sad, that Felipe had a drive-through penalty because a podium was close for him today. When I saw he was in fourth place, I though it would be a good celebration for him.
“It’s sad, but for the last four years he’s been an amazing team-mate with amazing skills and we’ve had a friendly relationship. Next year we will see him in the paddock in different colours.”
Nico Hulkenberg, who is set to leave Sauber for a return to Force India, finished eighth ahead of luckless Lewis Hamilton, who suffered a collision, a puncture and a drive-through penalty in his Mercedes, and 10th place Daniel Ricciardo, in his final race for Toro Rosso before replacing Webber at Red Bull.