Webber bows out as Vettel equals Ascari's record
HE had warned his departing team- mate that he would not gift him one final, emotional win and Sebastian Vettel was as good as his word.
The 26-year-old quadruple world champion rounded off a four-month – some might say four-year – period of utter domination by claiming another comprehensive victory at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, thereby denying Mark Webber what would have been a hugely popular valedictory win on his F1 swansong.
It felt somehow appropriate. The young star, after their monumental scrapes in 2010, has now fully usurped the old warhorse and this was the natural order of things. To have moved over for Webber, as some called for Vettel to do in the closing laps, would have been an insult to both men, especially with Vettel closing in on Alberto Ascari's 60-year-old record of nine straight wins.
Webber was certainly not complaining, removing his helmet on the warm-down lap to smile and wave to the crowd before describing his pride at sharing a podium one last time with Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso "arguably the two best guys of their generation." It was a lovely moment, capped when Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's chief executive, made a rare appearance in the post-race press conference to present the Australian with a Brazilian flag signed by all the drivers.
"It's a nice PR stunt anyway," Webber joked before finding some more appropriate words. "I'll obviously treasure it. It's like a trophy."
The victory enabled Vettel to match Michael Schumacher's 2004 haul of 13 victories in a single campaign.
It was the 39th victory of his career, placing him fourth in the all-time list, two behind Ayrton Senna, and he will have the chance to break Ascari's record in Melbourne next March, although he was quick to play down his achievement in drawing level with the great man. (© Daily Telegraph, London)