Vettel looks to break Schumacher mark
AUSTIN - Agence France-Presse
Sebastian Vettel needs two more wins to break Michael Schumacher’s record of straight Grand Prix wins. AFP photoSebastian Vettel will be focused on records and reconciliation this weekend when he seeks an eighth consecutive victory of the season at the United States Grand Prix.
The newly-crowned four-time drivers world champion will overhaul fellow-German Michael Schumacher’s all-time Formula One record if he is triumphant again at the Circuit of the Americas.
Seven-time champion Schumacher set his mark of seven wins in the 2004 season for Ferrari and will be among the first to congratulate Vettel, 26, if he records another victory.
Only Italian Alberto Ascari has a better record, winning nine consecutive races during the world championship’s Formula Two era in 1952-53.
Vettel began his winning run at the Belgian Grand Prix in August and has accumulated 11 this year.
Two more wins, in Texas and then in Sao Paulo, would lift him level with Schumacher’s record of 13 in a season, again set in 2004.
But Vettel, whose competitive instincts remain undimmed by his serial success, may have one eye also on soothing his oft-strained relationship with Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber.
Webber will retire from Formula One after the final event in Brazil - to be replaced by fellow-Aussie Daniel Ricciardo - and will hope to bow out with a smile, if not on a high.
He admitted recently that he felt that Vettel was “in another category” and the German responded, ahead of this week’s penultimate event, by acknowledging how much respect he has for his partner.
Webber voices respect
“We’ve always had respect on the track when we’ve been fighting each other,” he said.
“As teammates for the last five years we’ve got to know each other very, very well. That means I know his strengths and I know...not his weaknesses, but corners where I might have an advantage for instance, and vice versa. It has always been very close, maybe closer than people remember, and I’ve appreciated that, so therefore I have enormous respect for him.
“At the end of the day we’ve been very successful for the team, winning four constructors’ championships in a row.”
Vettel made little of the furore that surrounded his decision to disobey team orders and snatch victory ahead of Webber earlier this year in Malaysia.
That omission could hint that he is prepared to repay a debt before the season ends, by helping Webber win again before he leaves to go sportscar racing with Porsche. The Australian would love to take his 10th Formula One Grand Prix win in his own style but is hardly likely to refuse a gift in an event that delighted all visitors a year ago.