Sebastian Vettel breaks another record with his eighth consecutive victory
World Champion surpasses achievement of his boyhood hero
By Mike Wise in Austin. Last Updated: 18/11/13 9:48am
Another race; another win; another record: Sebastian Vettel's 12th victory of 2013 at the U.S. GP on Sunday was also his eighth in a row, beating Michael Schumacher's tally of consecutive wins in a season.
Not that Vettel's latest milestone necessarily registered far and wide as he took the chequered flag. After all, the wins have been coming so thick and fast lately; maybe it becomes easier to lose sight of the fact that records continue to be broken.
Perhaps it was the race itself - a procession, in truth, with few talking points of note - that dulled the realisation; perhaps it's the fact that Vettel has been hoovering up records throughout his F1 career. It's as if the level of attainment is now such that it's become blasé.
To some people it might seem so, but clearly not to the man himself. The World Champion's latest batch of doughnuts seemed particularly apt in the land of Homer Simpson but the almost childlike levels of excitement usually on display after the chequered flag were toned down this time.
It was easy to scoff at the contrast as Vettel whimpered "I love you guys" to Red Bull over radio but he had just achieved something even his hero hadn't managed. How many people can say they've done that?
"I think it's one of those records that you never expect to be beaten so it's very difficult to find the right words," Vettel said later. "If you look back, and if you look at those names who had similar records or outstanding performances in the past, I think it's impossible to understand."
Schumacher's tally of seven straight wins was set in 2004. "At his time, he was breaking a lot of records and many of them will last forever, I think. To come even close and today to beat one of those is exceptional," Vettel continued.
"I think, as a sportsman, you don't jump into the car to break records and equally you don't expect them to last forever."
According to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Vettel "was pretty emotional at the end of the race because he's beaten the record of one of his idols and it seemed unlikely that kind of record would be beaten.
"To win eight consecutive races in a row - to have won every race since July - is mind-blowing, especially against the quality of opposition that we're up against."
Schumacher and Vettel have plenty in common, of course, including the tag of being called arrogant.
Yet there are obvious differences too, with the 26-year-old's appreciation of F1 history certainly not shared by the seven-times World Champion - or many of Vettel's contemporaries for that matter.
"Any record means a great deal and he doesn't expect to achieve them. So therefore when he has - and he's got quite a few now - he's genuinely quite humbled when he looks at the list of names," Horner said.
"He's still a huge fan of the sport; he knows a lot about the history of the sport. He's probably one of the few drivers who, if you asked him who won the championship in '69, '73 and '78 he could rattle off those names."
Placed in this context, the presence of the last of those World Champions, Mario Andretti, as master of ceremonies on the podium at the Circuit of The Americas was perfectly apt.
Schumacher might have been Vettel's boyhood hero but it was the holder of the next record in his sights, Alberto Ascari, who Andretti worshipped as a teenager.
Ascari won nine consecutive races in seasons 1952/53 and on the strength of his current form, few would bet against Vettel equalling the record at Interlagos this coming weekend.
Horner acknowledged that the Brazilian GP represents something of a dilemma for Red Bull, given that it's also Mark Webber's last race. "Mark wouldn't want to be gifted a win and it would be great to see him win his final race - what a way to sign out," he added.
"But Sebastian's going to be going for that record and as usual it'll be a straight fight between the two of them."
Never mind a straight fight, Vettel v Webber has appeared more of a walkover recently - indeed, so has Vettel v Everyone Else - and the fallout has, of course, fuelled heated debate: Is he arrogant? Is he ruthless? Perhaps he's a bit of both?
It's a debate that's familiar to anyone with any awareness of the Schumacher/Ferrari era. Vettel clearly has and on Sunday it was the history boy rather than finger boy who took the plaudits.
"People look back and they talk about that time and about certain drivers and one day people might look back and talk about our time and what we've done as a team," he added.
They might indeed. One or two more wins would certainly help jog a few memories in the years to come.