Vettel puts himself among the greats

Vettel bows down in front of his RB9
Vettel bows down in front of his RB9

Sebastian Vettel has ensured his name lives long in F1 memory by winning his fourth consecutive world drivers championship.

The 26-year-old becomes only the fourth driver in history to win four titles after Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher - and Vettel is the youngest to achieve the feat.

His victory in the Indian Grand Prix was almost meaningless as the only man who could stop him - Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, was involved in two first lap scuffles, effectively ruining any chances of scuppering Vettel’s championship celebrations.

Alonso had a coming together with Vettel’s Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber at the first corner, damaging his front wing in the process. Then, just two corners later, he collided with Jenson Button.

Needing to finish second or above, with Vettel not scoring just to delay the inevitable, Alonso found himself in 16th after three laps.

The Pirelli tyres made for a strategic battle, and with Vettel stopping after just two laps, he fought back through the field while others went for a longer stint.

Webber, elevated into the lead with others stopping around him, looked to be Vettel’s biggest challenger for a sixth race win in a row, but his middle stint wasn’t as quick as Vettel’s, and needing at least two more stops, Webber dropped in behind his team-mate.

But after Webber’s retirement, all pressure was off Vettel and he could coast to his fourth title in a row.

“I crossed the line and I was empty,” said Vettel afterwards. “I took ages to think about something to say.

“It’s one of these moments where you want to say so many things but you can’t. It’s been such a phenomenal season.

“I think the team and the spirit inside the team is so strong; I said it on the radio already – it gives me so much power.

“It’s a pleasure to jump in the car and go out for the guys and girls and try to give it all I have. The car was fantastic.”

Now listed among some of the best drivers of all time, Vettel admitted that the negative reaction from some the fans, notably in Canada and Singapore, upset him.

He added: “It a was tough season for me personally, to receive boos even though we haven’t done anything wrong; to overcome that and give the right answer on the track and get acceptance makes me very proud.

“To join people like Prost, Fangio and Michael is unbelievable. I think this is one of the best days in my life so far.

“There are so many people that I have to thank; I’ve always tried to listen and learn and it’s incredible to race some of the best drivers in the world.”

The next race is this weekend in Abu Dhabi.