SAO PAULO, Brazil — Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel could make this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix — the final round of the 2013 Formula One season — a memorable one.
Vettel, who clinched his fourth successive F1 world championship four weeks ago in India, has an opportunity to match two records in the sport on Sunday.
The 26-year-old German will attempt to win his ninth consecutive grand prix, which would tie Alberto Ascari’s 50-year-old record. Ascari scored nine victories in a row from the tail end of the 1952 season through the early part of the 1953 season.
Vettel has 12 wins this season. If he takes the checkered flag in Brazil, he will equal Michael Schumacher’s record for most victories in a season. Schumacher won 13 races during his record-extending seven world championship season in 2004.
Last weekend in Austin, Texas, Vettel set a record for most consecutive wins in a single season with eight.
“It’s phenomenal; it’s very difficult to understand,” Vettel said after his victory in the United States Grand Prix. “It’s one of those records that I think was meant to last forever. I don’t get in the car thinking about records.”
Vettel has one victory in six Brazilian GP starts. He won it in 2010.
“This race is always crazy,” he said. “It is actually a very short lap, and it’s quite difficult to overtake at Interlagos. The race is long at over 70 laps, and it puts a lot of load on your neck because of the long left corners. So the centrifugal forces pull in an unfamiliar counter-clockwise direction.”
Friday’s practice sessions at the 2.7-mile, 15-turn Interlagos circuit were run during wet conditions. Nico Rosberg from Mercedes posted the quickest lap in each of the two sessions. Vettel placed third in P1 and second in P2.
“We knew it would be wet today and might be tricky,” Vettel said. “The main loss from the rain was that we didn’t run on the 2014 tires. Not many people went out this afternoon in order to save tires for the weekend. Come Saturday and Sunday, we may need to have the tires available. It was good to get a bit of a baseline in these conditions. We need to be sharp and make the right calls for the next two days.”
While Vettel aims for a record-setting weekend in Brazil, his teammate, Mark Webber, will make his 215th and final grand prix start. Webber will depart F1 after Brazil and join Porsche’s new sports car program in the Le Mans 24 Hours and World Endurance Championship in 2014. All of his nine race wins and 13 poles in F1 came during his tenure with Red Bull (2007-13).
“I think on Sunday it will be a little bit different, but it still feels like a normal race at the moment,” Webber said. “I’m looking forward to Sunday in many ways, in terms of pushing for a good result. I’m also ready to stop and looking forward to the extended winter that I’ll have and the new challenges around the corner. Getting out of the car Sunday, there will be a few things that will be for the last, obviously in terms of Formula One. But I’m pretty relaxed at the moment and looking forward to the race.”
Webber has not won a grand prix since July 2012 in Great Britain. He has two victories in the Brazilian GP (2009 and ‘11).
Brazilian Felipe Massa is set to make his last start with Ferrari before he moves to Williams next year. Massa has been with Ferrari for eight years. He won in his home country in 2006, his first season with the Italian team, and again in ‘08.