Italian Grand Prix: Vettel can see title glory through the tears
Sebastian Vettel shed tears of joy following an Italian Grand Prix win that has left him with an iron-fisted grip on a further slice of Formula One history.
Monza was supposed to highlight Red Bull's weaknesses, instead the dominant Vettel merely proved he and his team simply have no flaws this season, and the championship is now but a formality.
This was Vettel's eighth victory this season, and to underline the magnitude of such a feat, only two drivers in F1 have achieved more in a single campaign.
Michael Schumacher holds the record with 13, the seven-times world champion also winning 11 one year and nine on three occasions, as did Nigel Mansell in his title-winning season of 1992.
With Ferrari's Fernando Alonso now his nearest challenger, but 112 points adrift, there is the prospect of Vettel becoming the youngest back-to-back world champion in Singapore in a fortnight's time.
For that to happen he must at least finish on the podium to start with, something he has failed to do only once in 13 grands prix to date, and then beyond that various permutations kick in.
But at the scene of his maiden victory in 2008 when he conjured an unlikely triumph with Red Bull's 'sister' team Toro Rosso, his win on this occasion clearly meant as much.
Standing above one of the greatest scenes in F1, as thousands of fans invaded the track to watch the podium celebrations, emotion got the better of the 24-year-old German.
“Yeah, very emotional,” said a more composed Vettel as he later reflected on his 18th career success.
“This circuit means a lot to me. It is very special as I got my first win here, so when I crossed the line I remembered every single bit of that.
“And then the podium, that is unbelievable.
“When you stand up there you feel so blessed. It doesn't happen to many people.
“There are so many people underneath you who have come all the way from as far as the Curva Grande (a sweeping bend a kilometre away).
“It is filled with people, and it is amazing. Last time the Italian people were cheering a bit more (as Toro Rosso are based in Italy). But it is still very special for me to be in this place again.”
After finishing 9.5 seconds clear of Jenson Button, Vettel knows the title is close at hand, but he added: “We will go to Singapore, take things step-by-step and see what we can do.”
Fernando Alonso came home third with Lewis Hamilton fourth and Schumacher fifth.