Vettel seeks final win to cap record-setting year
Posted at: 11/21/2013 4:05 PM
By TALES AZZONI
(AP) SAO PAULO - The Formula One season ends this weekend with champion Sebastian Vettel looking to set more records to cap an already impressive year.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, the Red Bull driver can equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in a year and match the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari in the 1952 and ’53 seasons.
Also, Mark Webber will bid farewell to F1. It will be the final race before a series of driver changes at other top teams such as Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and Williams.
The Brazilian GP also will be the last race before significant engine changes revamp the series next year, meaning there’s a chance the days of dominance of Vettel and Red Bull could be over.
"It’s been a pretty good season, so in a way you would like the season to continue," Vettel said Thursday. "But we are also looking forward to the challenge of next year."
Vettel’s dominant performances in 2013 led to record-setting numbers. Last week at the U.S. GP in Austin, Texas, he won for the eighth consecutive time to break Schumacher’s mark of seven straight wins in 2004. When he clinched the title at the Indian GP, the 26-year-old German became the youngest driver to win four world championships.
"I think you have a different approach if you talk about records when you are a sportsman," Vettel said. "There are a lot of records that were not meant to be broken and were broken in the past, and therefore it will be the same in the future. I don’t know how long Formula One will exit, probably forever, so the chances are very high that your record or somebody else’s record will break one day."
A victory in Brazil will put Vettel on the same page as Ascari and Schumacher again, giving more arguments to those who say he’s among the greatest F1 drivers. He said he felt somewhat "embarrassed" to hear such comments from some former world champions.
"In the end of the day, similar to them in their time, I like what I do and obviously I don’t come here to finish second," Vettel said. "So If I have a chance to win, I want to take it."
Despite his dominance this year, winning in Brazil may not be easy. Vettel has not won the season-ending race at Interlagos since 2010. And although he clinched the title last year in Sao Paulo, he finished only sixth after spinning on the first lap following a poor start. Vettel was second to teammate Webber in 2011, when he came into the race with the title already secured.
"This race is always crazy," Vettel said.
Webber also won the Brazilian GP in 2009, and the Australian is hoping for another win on Sunday to end his 12-year F1 career on a high note. He will be joining Porsche in a racing series in 2014 after saying the "fire was not quite" there for him in F1.
"There comes a time when you’ve got to let go," Webber said.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, from Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, will replace Webber in 2014. In other changes, world champion Kimi Raikkonen leaves Lotus for Ferrari, where Felipe Massa drove for eight seasons before losing his ride and joining Williams. The Brazilian replaces Pastor Maldonado, who could be up for the Raikkonen seat at Lotus.
When Massa was asked if he thinks Ferrari will miss him in the future, he said "I hope so," before starting to praise the Italian team and saying he wished it "a good future."
McLaren, which struggled throughout 2013, will replace Mexican Sergio Perez with rookie Kevin Magnussen of Denmark.
Several teams have chances to win next year as F1 changes from the current 2.4-litre V8 engines to a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged unit, demanding significant alterations in the design of cars and making predictions difficult.
"Cars will be different, engines will be different," Vettel said. "Next year certainly is a very big project. There are a lot of things that are still a little bit gray right now."
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)