Sebastian Vettel took his place among the sport’s greats, joining the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher, as the German finally wrapped up that inevitable fourth world title with a typically dominant win around the Buddh International Circuit.
Vettel crossed the line nearly half a minute ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, his third successive victory in as many races on Indian soil, also helping Red Bull clinch their fourth consecutive constructors’ title.
“You’re a four time world champion! Brilliant, brilliant drive, you’ve joined the greats,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said over the team radio as an emotional Vettel crossed the line.
Following his title success, the 26-year-old goes down in history as not only the youngest ever four-time world champion but also the only driver in the history of the sport to claim his first four titles in succession.
His victory at the 5.1 kilometer track on the outskirts of New Delhi also extends his winning streak to six races, keeping him firmly on course to match Ferrari legend Alberto Ascari’s record of nine successive races — spanning across the 1952-53 seasons.
Behind the top two Romain Grosjean brought home a fine third, after having started seventeenth on the grid, with a late race pass on team-mate Kimi Raikkonen nearly ending in tears, the two Lotus cars banging wheels as the Finn, struggling with grip on his well-worn tyres and running short of fuel, attempted to defend the place.
Felipe Massa followed the Grosjean home in a strong fourth place, the Brazilian making a lightening start that saw him jump to second from fifth on the grid, and leading the race in the early stages as the pitstops played out.
Sergio Perez, another driver to make an unusual strategy work for him, finished fifth after running among the front runners for much of the race, ahead of Lewis Hamilton who finished sixth in the Mercedes.
Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil gave Force India a double points finish in their home race with an eighth and ninth place finish while Daniel Ricciardo scored a solitary point for Toro Rosso in tenth.