New Delhi: Sebastian Vettel earned himself the title of a modern great in the year 2013, which will be remembered for the young German`s sheer domination on the Formula One tracks even as India, where his historic fourth crowning took place, was chopped off the next calender year.
From the Belgium Grand Prix in August to the season-ending Brazilian race in November, Vettel won nine races on the trot and during his stunning victory spree, he became the youngest quadruple champion.
The extraordinary run eclipsed Michael Schumacher`s mark of seven consecutive victories in a single season. Not only this, Vettel won 13 races to tie Schumacher`s 2004 record. The victories in Singapore and Korea were `grand slams` as he was on pole, set the fastest lap, won the race and led every lap of those races.
Apart from his own driving skills, a lot of credit for Red Bull`s domination would go to Andrew Newey, their chief technical officer, who converted the RB09 into an unbeatable beast.
Vettel won races with such consummate ease, sometimes by a huge 30-second margin, that it forced some people to call F1 boring due to his domination.
Drivers such as Fernando Alonso, who never give up, appeared helpless as they accepted that Vettel cannot be beaten, at least this season.
Vettel had his own `stubborn` ways and he displayed that when he defied the team orders, not letting his teammate Mark Webber win in Malaysian GP.
This invited a lot of criticism and was perhaps the only blemish in an otherwise super calender year for him. However, Vettel defended his action, saying it was payback time since Webber had done the same to him in Brazil in 2012.
Not only this, Vettel also did something that no would would have expected. After securing his fourth straight title in India, instead of parking his car as the rules would suggest, he performed donuts with his RB09 as smoke covered the scene.
He then bowed before his car, jumped on to his machine and threw his gloves towards his fans, making for unprecedented scenes at any F1 Grand Prix.
And he repeated it in the next race as well.
With Vettel winning everything, the fight was restricted to two other podium places. Alonso was a distant second, and Webber, who has quit the sport, was third in the drivers` standing.
Webber said goodbye to the sport, having amassed 1,047.5 career points which is the sixth highest of all-time, 215 starts, nine wins and 42 podiums.
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and Alonso were the only drivers to claim more than one wins this season.
Red Bull also won its fourth straight constructors` title, tying McLaren`s run from 1988 to 1991. Only Ferrari have won more constructors` crowns consecutively (six from 1999 to 2004) but the biggest surprise this year was the decline of McLaren which could not claim a single podium finish this season.
It was first time since 1980 that the British side had gone without a podium in a single season. But they had one positive to rejoice as it was in their 50th season, they became the first team in Formula One history to have both cars classified in every Grand Prix.
Sahara Force India had a great first half and was threatening to displace McLaren from the fifth spot but the tyre change by Pirelli post the Silverstone blowouts pegged the outfit back.
A poor run followed for the team and even the sixth place looked in danger with Sauber making fast progress, exploiting the tyre-change. Nevertheless, an improved showing from the Indian Grand Prix onwards helped Force India retain the sixth position.
It was a strong show in the mid-field and since the new regulations will come into force from 2014, the team claims to be well-prepared for the new era in Formula One.
The team then went for a complete change in the drivers` line-up as it got back Nico Hulkenberg and recruited Sergio Perez, showing the door to Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, who did a reasonably good job for the side.
From Indian GP`s point of view, it is feared that the fans in the country have seen the last F1 race at Buddh International Circuit.
The race has been scrapped for scheduling and `logistics` problems from the next season even as the organisers are bullish about its return in 2015.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone cited `political` problems in conducting the race in the country but the Jaypee Group is hopeful that they will bring the race back to India in 2015.