Sebastian Vettel is back in the US and he wants to win the race Lewis Hamilton snatched away from him at the end of last year.
Vettel led most of the 2012 US Grand Prix until Hamilton overtook him with a bold passing move with 14 laps to go, sending the Englishman to the top of the podium to wear the black Stetson cowboy hat presented to the winner.
“To be able to overtake him was one of the best things ever,” Hamilton said on Thursday.
“But we come into this weekend and everything’s different.”
Few have edged Vettel, who has dominated this season with 11 victories and already won his fourth consecutive Formula One world championship.
If Vettel wins on Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas, he’ll set a single season record with his eighth consecutive victory. And it would keep the German on target to match countryman Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 in a season.
“It’s a long weekend. I’m not really here to break a record,” Vettel said on Thursday, a shrug of humility from a driver who is already among the F1 greats.
“Surely I wouldn’t mind if that turns out to be the case, but that’s not the reason I jump in the car.”
And if he does win, what will greet him? Cheers or more of the boos that have chased him after some of his victories this season?
“It’s not nice … (but I) think I understand it,” Vettel said of the boos.
“If you’re not a Red Bull fan, the last couple of years you could say weren’t that great for you. If you are a Red Bull fan, obviously they were fantastic.”
Last year’s inaugural race in Austin had an air of excitement over the new track, and the return of F1 to the US amid a title chase.
Vettel was poised to win his third world championship until Hamilton pushed the title chase to the last race of the season in Brazil.
Vettel’s dominance has sapped some of the sizzle from the return trip.
“It’s more relaxed. The tension of the championship is not there anymore,” Vettel said.