World champion Sebastian Vettel secured victory in Abu Dhabi on what he labelled a “perfect day” as he continues to cement his place as a legend of Formula One.
The 26-year-old Red Bull driver secured his fourth title in India last weekend but did not let up as he stormed to a lights-to-flag finish at the Yas Marina circuit with the shackles now off.
Vettel once again left the entire field, including team-mate and pole sitter Mark Webber, in his wake as the German won by more than 30 seconds for his seventh race win in succession.
That means he joined seven-times champion Michael Schumacher in recording seven successive race wins in a calendar year, with Alberto Ascari holding the overall record for consecutive victories, having managed nine split between the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
It was also the 37th win of Vettel’s career, taking him to within four victories of the late Ayrton Senna, but the youngest quadruple champion in history is not motivated by becoming a record-breaker.
“It (breaking records) doesn’t make me jump in to the car but it is a shock when you mention these (Schumacher and Ascari),” he said.
“I know that any kind of record you talk about, Michael will be involved. The numbers are not that important to be me but equally they make me very, very proud.
“I think it just all came together, I think it was a perfect day for us.”
Webber had caused a minor shock by beating his seemingly all-conquering team-mate to pole position on Saturday but the Australian, who will leave Formula One at the end of the season, did not enjoy the best start and slipped behind both Vettel and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg before the first corner.
He fought back to pass Rosberg later in the race but could do nothing about the sheer domination of Vettel, with Webber admitting his partner was out in a class of his own.
“Sebastian was in another category today. He was quick and very, very strong and then it was obviously a recovery job against Nico who got a better start than both of us.”
Rosberg held on for third place as Mercedes look to keep hold of second place in the constructors’ championship at the expense of Ferrari.
The second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton had a quieter race and brought his car home seventh after a late surge towards the back of Paul Di Resta’s Force India proved fruitless.
Kimi Raikkonen’s weekend was summed up as he collided with a Caterham going in to the first corner, with his Lotus unable to continue. His team-mate Romain Grosjean has started to become the main man at Lotus and the Frenchman once again finished well as he took fourth place.
Ferrari dropped 11 points behind Mercedes as Fernando Alonso could only manage fifth despite a late surge following a switch to the faster, soft tyres.
Felipe Massa was eighth in the second Ferrari while McLaren’s Sergio Perez and the Force India of Adrian Sutil rounded out the points scorers.