Sebastian Vettel won his sixth race in a row to claim his fourth consecutive championship, putting him in the company of all-time greats Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, and Michael Schumacher. And he did it in style, spinning donuts at the start/finish line and giving his RB9 the “we’re not worthy” gesture. While much of the news surrounded Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean had fantastic drives to finish on the podium.
The German won his sixth consecutive race, and his 10th of the season, after starting on pole and always looking in control.
And with the title secured, the 26-year-old delighted the crowd at the Buddh International Circuit by pulling off a series of doughnuts on the start-finish straight, producing vast clouds of thick, grey smoke and earning himself a standing ovation.
“I had to do it – usually we’re not allowed to, but it felt so right at that time,” he said of the stunt, which will earned him a hefty £21,000 fine from the FIA for breaching safety regulations.
Vettel’s display wasn’t quite over: after finishing his doughnuts, he got out and knelt in front of the car that has carried him to four successive titles, raising his hands and prostrating himself in the famous “we’re not worthy” pose.
That gesture first came from the film Wayne’s World – but Formula One is now indisputably Sebastian’s world. He joins Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost as just the fourth driver to collect four titles. At the age of just 26, it seems impossible to imagine that he won’t add significantly to that tally in the 10 or 15 years probably still remaining in his career.
Red Bull were denied a 1-2 as Mark Webber was forced out in the latter stages of the race with an alternator problem while in a comfortable second place; it was a blow for the team, but Vettel’s win proved enough on its own to confirm the Red Bull as constructors’ championship winners.
Webber’s retirement left Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to take second place, with Romain Grosjean taking third place.
“It’s one of these moments you wish to say so many things but you can’t,” said Vettel.
“The spirit of the team gives me so much power that it’s a pleasure to jump in the car for the guys and give it all I have.”
Vettel added that his stroll to the title with three races left to go was not as easy as it looked.
“It was for sure not an easy season, though from the outside people got the idea that we had it in our hands for a long time,” he said.
“To finally get the acceptance that we’re all looking for as racing drivers feels great. To join drivers like Prost, Schumacher and Fangio is incredible,” added Vettel, referring to the only other drivers who have four world titles to their names.
Kimi Raikkonen had looked like making the podium after trying an outlandishly long stint on his second set of tyres, but he was barely able to keep the car on the track by the end and finished seventh behind Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.
Paul Di Resta, Adrian Sutil – who completed the race on a one-stop strategy – and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.
That left Fernando Alonso in 11th, meaning that Vettel would have claimed the title even if he’d not entered the race.
The Spaniard’s hopes were dashed on the first corner as he collided with Webber and needed a new nose cone – the early stop ruining his strategy of starting on the harder, medium compound tyre and ensuring that the day would belong to Vettel and Red Bull.