Seventh heaven for Vettel in Abu Dhabi

Red Bull Sebastian Vettel secured a seventh consecutive win of the season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, emulating the achievement of Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull

Vettel's world title party continued in Abu Dhabi as the newly-crowned 2013 champion secured his seventh successive grand prix victory.

Despite losing out on pole position to Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel stormed into the lead before the first corner and the four-time champion never looked like relinquishing top spot as he cantered to a lights-to-flag success.

Webber ultimately finished the race in second, with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg third.

As Vettel, and the fast-starting Rosberg, passed Webber, Kimi Raikkonen was enduring a miserable end to a weekend he will want to forget in a hurry.

The Lotus driver had qualified fifth, only to be excluded from the session after his car failed a scrutineering test.

That put last year's race winner at the back of the grid and, in his attempt to make up places early on, he caught the side of a Caterham into the first corner and was soon on his way home after suffering suspension damage.

Vettel built up a commanding lead and by the time he came in to change to the prime tyre, he had enough of a buffer back to Felipe Massa's Ferrari that he emerged back into first place.

There he stayed for yet another victory as he led home team-mate Webber by over 30 seconds, with the Australian unable to turn pole position in to his first win of the season.

Vettel's win meant he joined seven-times champion Michael Schumacher in recording seven successive race wins in a calendar year, with Alberto Ascari holding the overall record for consecutive victories, having managed nine - split between the 1952 and 1953 seasons.

Vettel even celebrated with more 'donuts' out on the circuit, despite the team receiving a fine from motor sport's world governing body the FIA for a similar move to mark his successful world title defence in India.

Rosberg, who said on Saturday his aim was to be the best of the rest behind the Red Bulls, achieved just that as he guided his Mercedes home to the final step on the podium.

With the German manufacturer fighting with Ferrari for second place in the constructors' championship, Rosberg's 15 points will have been welcomed.

His team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had suffered a broken wishbone in qualifying and required a late brake change on the grid, had a quieter evening as he finished in seventh.

The sole remaining Lotus of Romain Grosjean took fourth as he finished outside the podium places for the first time since Korea.

Ferrari had looked like having an average race, with Fernando Alonso and Massa fighting each other for a large period.

But the decision to put Alonso onto soft tyres for his final stint proved to be a masterstoke as the two-time world champion passed the British pair of Hamilton and Paul Di Resta to take fifth place, with Di Resta one-stopping to seal sixth for Force India.

Massa was also able to score valuable points in the constructors' battle as he ended the race in eighth place with McLaren's Sergio Perez ninth and the second Force India of Adrian Sutil 10th.

Jenson Button once again paid the price for qualifying in the midfield as he suffered in a first-lap incident for the second race in succession.

The 2009 champion required a new front wing and, having started on the harder tyres in the hope of a long first stint, his strategy was compromised and he brought his McLaren home in 12th.

Button spent a large period of the second part of the race behind the Williams of Pastor Maldonado, who took 11th place whilst the Saubers of Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg finished 13th and 14th, respectively.

Valtteri Bottas was 15th in the second Williams whilst it was a disappointing race for the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne who were next to cross the line.

Caterham outpaced fellow new team Marussia with Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic finishing 18th and 19th respectively whilst Jules Bianchi won the inter-team Marussia battle with Max Chilton.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner congratulated Vettel with a message on the team radio as he declared: "That was a world champion's drive."

Speaking on the podium after his victory, Vettel, who once again celebrated his win by performing donuts out on the track despite a fine for a similar act in India, admitted he was "flying" through the race.

"It is incredible," he said.

"The car was absolutely brilliant. There is not much more to say. I was flying at stages - at least it felt like it and there were some massive gaps which was a big surprise."

Webber was left to rue his poor start but was ultimately pleased with his best finish in Abu Dhabi on his final race at the circuit.

"The start wasn't great," Webber said.

"Nico got an unbelievable start and Seb's was a bit better than mine. On the first stint we were not strong enough on the soft tyres.

"After that the race went pretty well for me but Seb was gone - he was in another category up front. I had a nice little battle with Nico for second.

"I think he (Vettel) is in a sweet spot, for sure. In the end, I did my best today and this was my overall personal best around here."

Rosberg's podium, along with team-mate Hamilton's seventh place, helped Mercedes increase their lead over Ferrari in the constructors' championship to 11 points and the German knows it is important to maintain that gap.

"I'm happy. Third place is good, of course," he said.

"Second place would have been possible in the perfect world today, but I was very happy to hear that we took more points off them again and we are edging away from them.

"That is the most important thing - it means more money and is more motivation."



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