AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel promised he would never get used to winning, even as he celebrated a record eighth victory in a row at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday.
Asked whether he felt like pinching himself at what he had achieved, Red Bull’s quadruple world champion grinned: “Not just step back and pinch. I think step back and hit hard. That’s more like it.”
Amid the back-slapping and champagne being sprayed in the Red Bull hospitality, Vettel and team principal Christian Horner struggled to come to terms with a season that continues to rewrite the record books.
Red Bull, like their 26-year-old driver, have won every title for the past four years but this year has set a new level of dominance.
Having clinched a fourth consecutive drivers title last month in India, and become the youngest ever quadruple champion, Vettel had managed to find fresh motivation where others might have eased up.
He showed the same hunger and zeal at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday as he did two weeks earlier when he had equalled Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record of seven wins in a row in a single season.
“I think the moment you are not hungry any more and are asking yourself what are you doing, it’s time to move on and do something else.” he said. “I jump into the car and I just want to be fastest. It’s still there, same as a couple of years ago.
“Obviously it (winning races) was more the case lately than many years back, but still I think you should not allow yourself to get used to it.”
With just one race remaining in Brazil next weekend, Horner said the team will keep their foot on the gas all the way to the chequered flag in Sao Paulo, where Vettel can equal Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a season after collecting his 12th of the year in Texas.
“I think when we reflect at the end of the season on what we have actually achieved this year, it’s very remarkable,” Horner told reporters.
“He (Vettel) was quite emotional at the end of the race because he has beaten the record of one of his idols when it seemed likely that kind of record would not be beaten.
“To have won every race since July is mind-blowing, especially against the quality of opposition that we are up against. I think it will take a while to sink in.”
Vettel had said earlier in the week that he was not driven by records but he was well aware of the magnitude of what he had achieved the minute he crossed the finish line in Texas.
“I’m speechless,” the German told his team over the radio. “We have to remember these days. There is no guarantee they will last forever.”
Later, talking to reporters, Vettel was still trying to put it all into perspective.
“I think you should never lose the passion and the joy and always remember the days when you were just dreaming of these things to happen,” he said. “So therefore I think it’s important for all of us to just enjoy the moment.
“There’s more time later in our lives to realize what it meant.”
With massive changes to the cars coming next season that could turn the sport on its head, or at least threaten Red Bull’s supremacy, Horner agreed that it was important to make the most of present success.
“In sport whether it is Roger Federer or Ferrari, or Williams or McLaren there are phases of sportsmen being dominant and at some point that does come to an end and then you have to regroup and you have to go again,” said Horner.
“Sebastian is right, it’s important to savor moments like today. It’s easy to become complacent but you have to appreciate every single moment.
“It never gets boring because you have to remember the days when we weren’t winning,” said the principal, who marked his 40th birthday on Saturday.
Editing by Alan Baldwin