Two-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel made history again on Saturday, breaking Nigel Mansell’s 19-year record for the most pole positions in a season.
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One year after becoming the youngest driver to win the F1 championship, the German captured his 15th pole at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday to surpass the mark Mansell set in 1992.
”Obviously it took the master in that discipline a couple of races less, but very special to me and just happy to be here,” said the 24-year-old Vettel, who was 23 when he won the 2010 title for Red Bull.
Mansell set the record with Williams in a 16-race season in which he also won nine races to capture his only F1 drivers’ title. He only failed to start from the pole at the Canadian and Hungarian GPs that year. He had six consecutive poles to start the season and five straight to finish.
Vettel broke the record in 19 races. He only failed to win the pole in Spain, England, Germany and South Korea. His worst starting position was third, in Germany.
”An awesome achievement by Sebastian,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. ”It’s a new record in Formula One, which is a small piece of history for Sebastian and is thoroughly deserved. He shared the record with Nigel for two weeks and he now has some fairly illustrious names behind him.”
Vettel drew even with Mansell after winning his 14th pole at the Abu Dhabi GP two weeks ago, and broke the record on Saturday in 1 minute, 11.918 seconds on the 2.6-mile Interlagos track.
Vettel parked his car and extended his finger to show who was No. 1 again, his trademark celebration.
”This is really special, it’s different from the other poles,” said Vettel, who clinched this year’s title at the Japan GP in October. ”I’m enjoying the moment. All and all, I was pretty happy with my days on Saturdays (this season).
”I put everything in that last lap, it was very emotional when I crossed the line. It was all I had, I gave it all.”
Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second in 1:12.099. Jenson Button of McLaren was third in 1:12.283, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
”Seb just had that extra 10th to grab the pole,” Webber said. ”I tried to help old Nigel out today but it didn’t work out.”
Vettel had been fastest in the final practice Saturday morning and dominated qualifying, staying in front throughout the session.
”There is no secret, once we go to qualifying we all seem to enjoy it,” Vettel said. ”Qualifying is all about putting everything that you have and that the car has in one lap. It’s like a rush, I really enjoy that.”
The German had been trying to avoid talking about the record, saying he wouldn’t sacrifice his race performance to prioritize the car’s setup for qualifying just to break Mansell’s mark.
”There was quite some talk before this weekend about this particular record, the best thing was not to think about it,” he said.
With the title already decided in favor of Vettel since the Japanese GP, virtually the only thing at stake in Brazil is the fight for second place, with Button, Alonso and Webber still with a chance to finish runner-up. Button has a 10-point lead over Alonso and an 18-point advantage over Webber.
”I feel we did the best in the car,” Button said. ”The setup was the best we were going to get it. I got everything out of it.”
Vettel dominated the season with 11 victories, but it was Hamilton who won the last race in Abu Dhabi after a tire failure forced Vettel to retire on the first lap.
Red Bull also has already won the constructors’ championship, with McLaren finishing second and Ferrari third.