Another race, another one-two, another batch of celebratory doughnuts. Red Bull will be sponsored by Krispy Kreme next year if this goes on much longer. Sebastian Vettel echoed his championship-winning celebrations of the previous weekend by marking his seventh successive victory with some crowd-pleasing power spins beneath the floodlights of Abu Dhabi's opulent Yas Marina Circuit.
This time, however, the stewards declined to punish the German or his team-mate, Mark Webber, who also got in on the action, for their exuberance. Just as well. Formula One was left looking more than a little po-faced following Vettel's win in India, reprimanding the sport's new four-time world champion and fining Red Bull 25,000 euros for failing to proceed directly to parc ferme after the race. The German is nothing if not a quick learner. And as he has proved with his stubborn refusal to cut out his pointy-finger celebration, he does not like to be told he cannot do something.
"Technically today I don't think I broke any rules because I brought the car home this time and will hopefully be able to provide a fuel sample," Vettel grinned mischievously in his post-race press conference. "Last week I left the car parked in the middle of the track which, from what I remember, was the main issue." The truth is, Vettel can do what he likes at the moment. He could have done his doughnuts at the start of yesterday's race and still won at a canter, such is the advantage he enjoys over his rivals. This victory, by more 30 seconds from his Red Bull stablemate, was crushing in its ease.
Vettel, starting second, passed Webber into turn one and never looked remotely troubled thereafter. By lap 30, with dawn turning to dusk and the Yas Hotel firing up its LED light display, he had opened up a 30-second lead at the front. One second per lap on average. Almost as stunning as this sumptuous, faintly obscene $1?billion facility in the desert. No doubt Vettel could have further increased his lead had he so wished, but the quadruple champion elected to ease off at that point, maintaining the gap to Webber until the chequered flag.
The win kept the 26-year-old on target to tie Alberto Ascari's 50-year-old record of nine consecutive wins as well as Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season. Vettel, as ever, tried to deny that such statistics were important to him, although he did concede that he was "very, very proud" to have won in front of his parents, Norbert and Heike, who had not travelled to India.
"It's very special to me that they were here this weekend," Vettel said. "I think I learnt a lot of good things from them and one day if I have kids I want to pass exactly these things on." Webber, who had also been passed by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg into turn one, managed to reclaim second place on lap 21, with Rosberg taking the final podium spot, beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton for a fifth time in six races in the process. Hamilton was in no mood for excuses. "Clearly with Nico's result the car's better than what I'm able to bring home with it," he admitted after his seventh place.
"It's the same every race. It can't be other people's fault." The other major talking points centred on Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who escaped a penalty when passing Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne off track en route to fourth place, and Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen, whose turbulent week continued with a first-lap crash. The Ferrari-bound Finn, who has reportedly agreed a deal to drive in the final two races of the season after resolving his pay dispute with Lotus, was starting from 22nd on the grid after his car failed a front floor deflection test in qualifying. He collided with Caterham's Giedo Van der Garde trying to make up ground, breaking his steering rod in the process. By the time Vettel crossed the finish line, Raikkonen had long since headed for the airport.
At least Vettel remembered him in his victory celebrations, echoing Raikkonen's words when the Finn won here last year. "Let me quote [Raikkonen]: 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I am doing'," Vettel laughed upon being told to return his car to the garage post-haste, only to dish out a few doughnuts instead. "You can pay the fine on that one," observed Red Bull's team principal, Christian Horner, sardonically. Thankfully, none was forthcoming this time.