Sebastian Vettel roared into the history books as Formula One’s youngest four-time champion after a superlative win at the Indian Grand Prix.
Pole-sitter Vettel pitted early to change his soft tyres but then cut through the field to win by 30 seconds from Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean third.
The 26-year-old German becomes the youngest man to win four straight titles, joining Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only others to achieve the feat.
Despite teammate Mark Webber’s retirement with mechanical problems, Red Bull also sealed their fourth straight constructors’ title.
“Unbelievable day,” said Vettel over the team radio. “We did it! Yes! Yes!”
“You’ve done it in style,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said back. “Brilliant drive – you join the greats.”
With his fourth championship, achieved with 10 wins this season, Vettel levels French great Alain Prost on the all-time list with only Fangio (five) and Schumacher (seven) ahead of him.
He did doughnuts for a raucous grandstand, then leapt on top of his car and saluted fans before kneeling in front of the Red Bull in mock worship.
An emotional Vettel was hoisted onto the shoulders of Rosberg and Grosjean on the podium.
“First of all I want to thank the crowd for an unbelievable reception. I am speechless. I spent ages thinking what to say; there is so much you want to say at a time like that.
“It is a pleasure to jump in the car and go out and drive for the guys and give it all I have. The car was phenomenal today and has been phenomenal all season, to be honest.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is behind the team. It has not been an easy season. From the outside, people will think it was easy but it wasn’t.”
Vettel said the enthusiastic applause from the Indian crowd was particularly sweet after he was unsportingly jeered after winning in Belgium, Italy and Singapore.
“It has been hard for me in particular. To be booed when I have not done anything wrong was hard, but I think I answered the things on the track which I am very pleased about.
“I am overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say but it is the best day of my life so far.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vettel’s nearest challenger but 90 points adrift, managed only 11th place.
Vettel’s sixth win in a row, 10th in 16 races this season and 36th of his career left him poised to shatter more records in the remaining three races in Abu Dhabi, the United States and Brazil.
If he takes all three, Vettel will equal Schumacher’s record of 13 victories in 2004 and become the only driver to secure nine consecutive wins in a season.
Vettel, made a quick change to medium tyres after the second lap and dropped to the back of the field, but returned to second place by the 21st lap behind Webber.
He regained the lead in the 30th lap but then saw Webber drop out of the race in the 40th.
Red Bull ordered a stunned Webber to stop while in second place due to a problem with his car’s alternator.
“Disappointing, but there’s not much I can do,” Webber said. “There was something wrong with the car, so we had to stop straight away.”
Webber’s fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished 10th in his Toro Rosso.