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Sunday, November 24, 2013
Sebastian Vettel wins Brazilian GP

Associated Press

SAO PAULO -- Sebastian Vettel won Formula One's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, matching Michael Schumacher's record of 13 victories in a year and equaling the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari.

Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in his final F1 race. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third.

Vettel, who had already wrapped up a fourth straight F1 title, was overtaken by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes at the start but regained the lead on the second lap and cruised to his second victory in Brazil, and 39th of his career. He crossed the line 10.4 seconds in front of Webber.

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel tosses his Brazilian Grand Prix trophy into the air after winning his ninth straight race and 13th of the 2013 season.

Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren's best finish of the season. Rosberg was fifth and Mexico's Sergio Perez finished sixth after starting 19th in his final race with McLaren.

"Yes, we did it,'' Vettel said on his radio before his now-traditional donut celebration of spinning the car.

The win capped an impressive year by Vettel, who had already broken Schumacher's 2004 mark of seven straight wins in the same season last week at the United States GP.

"I'm actually quite sad that this season comes to an end,'' Vettel said. "The car has been phenomenal. It just kept getting better. I'm extremely proud.''

Vettel matched the 13 wins by Schumacher that same year, and equaled Ascari's record of nine straight victories from 1952-53. The 26-year-old Vettel clinched the title at the Indian GP, becoming the youngest driver to win four world championships.

Webber, who had won two of the last four races in Brazil, took his helmet off as he returned to the pits and waved to the crowd. The team wrote "Awesome. Thank you Mark,'' on the pit sign as the Australian crossed the finish line.

"It was a good finish to my career,'' Webber said. "It was a great journey. I'll enjoy watching F1 next year.''

Webber will be joining Porsche in a sports car series in 2014. The 37-year-old Australian spent 12 seasons in F1, winning nine times and reaching the podium 42 times in 215 starts. His second place on Sunday allowed him to finish third in the drivers' standings, repeating his feat in 2010 and '11.

Vettel had a poor start and was overtaken by Rosberg at the first turn but was back in front with a move to the inside of his fellow German driver on Turn 1 on the following lap. Vettel had a slow pit stop near the end but remained in front thanks to a big lead over Webber before coming in.

The team changed strategy at the last minute and only had three tires ready when Vettel came in. Webber was right behind and had to wait until the crew finished the work on Vettel's car.

It was the first time this weekend that drivers raced on a dry track at Interlagos after the three practice sessions and qualifying were run in wet conditions. Light rain fell near the end of the race but it wasn't enough to significantly affect the track conditions.

Alonso, who had already secured second place in the drivers' standings, said he was hoping for a wet track at the end of the race.

"Unfortunately the rain didn't come,'' he said. "We were better in wet conditions. It seemed it would start raining any moment but it didn't.''

Lewis Hamilton, who had a flat right rear tire on his Mercedes after contact with Valtteri Bottas of Williams, finished ninth. Hamilton received a drive through penalty for causing the collision.

Mercedes was still able to hold on to second place in the constructors' championship, finishing ahead of Ferrari and Lotus. Red Bull had already clinched the title.

Home-crowd favorite Felipe Massa, in his final race with Ferrari before joining Williams, finished a disappointing seventh after receiving a drive-through penalty for illegally crossing a pit line while running fourth. Massa will be replaced by world champion Kimi Raikkonen next year.

Perez, who is giving way to rookie Kevin Magnussen of Denmark, had a remarkable race in his farewell from McLaren. He had started 19th after a five-spot grid penalty for having to change a gear box following a crash in qualifying on Saturday.

No McLaren driver had reached the podium or finished higher than fifth coming into the season finale.

It was the last race before significant engine changes debut in F1 next year. Teams will have to switch from 2.4-litre V8 engines to a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged unit, a move that will demand significant alterations in the design of cars and make predictions nearly impossible.