Philadelphia, PA – Two-time defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will attempt to win his fifth consecutive grand prix this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Vettel's winning streak began on Sept. 23 in Singapore. The Red Bull driver then claimed victories in Japan, Korea and India. It's the first time the young German has won four straight F1 races in his career.
"It's pretty amazing," Vettel said. "It's very hard to target those kind of things. I think they either happen, or they don't happen. I think the secret, if there is any, is that we didn't approach the first of those four races thinking we can win four. We focused on the first one, then on the second one, then on the third one, then on the fourth one."
Vettel also led every lap in Japan, Korea and India. It's the first time a driver has led all laps in three straight F1 events since Ayrton Senna did it in 1989.
Prior to Singapore, Vettel trailed Fernando Alonso from Ferrari by 39 points. Vettel is now 13 points ahead of Alonso, as three races remain. Austin, Texas (Nov. 18) and Brazil (Nov. 25) follow Abu Dhabi.
Alonso has remained very much in the title hunt with podium appearances in four of the last five grand prix. The Spaniard finished second to Vettel in India. His title hopes, though, took a big hit in Japan, where he was forced to retire after crashing on the opening lap.
"I think we need to bring some new parts to Abu Dhabi, hopefully improve a little bit more then competitiveness of the car, try to be a little bit closer to Red Bulls on Saturday and hopefully on Sunday," Alonso said. With three races remaining, the championship is the main target, so we need to recover some points. It will be nice to finish in front of Sebastian in Abu Dhabi, whatever the position it is. If we can win the race, it will be even better."
If Vettel can win on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he would become the sixth different driver in F1 history to win five or more grand prix in a row. Michael Schumacher was the last driver to accomplish that feat in 2004, winning the first five races of the season and then scoring seven victories in a row from May-August.
Abu Dhabi, which has become one of the most popular grand prix on the current F1 calendar, has been a special place for Vettel. He won the inaugural race there in 2009. The following year, Vettel not only won at Abu Dhabi for the second straight time but clinched his first F1 world championship there as well, as he ended the season just four points ahead of Alonso.
"In just three years, the race has grown to be one of the highlights of the season," Vettel said. "Starting at dusk and finishing in the dark makes it something unique and impressive. I have special memories of the circuit. I won there in 2009 and then repeated the victory in 2010 to win my first world championship, so it's an event I will never forget. The circuit itself is impressive."
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber from Red Bull and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton are the only other drivers who remain mathematically eligible for this year's championship. Raikkonen is presently 67 points behind Vettel, while Webber trails his teammate by 73. Hamilton, who won last year's race in Abu Dhabi, is 75 points out of the lead.
The 3.451-mile Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi features nine right turns and 12 left turns. It's one of the few circuits on the F1 calendar that runs in an anti-clockwise direction.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Nov. 4. Race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Site: Yas Marina Circuit. Track: 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer), 21-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. (et). Laps: 55. Miles: 189.738 (305.355 km). 2011 Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Television: Speed.