Vettel was more dominant than ever on his way to a fourth straight F1 title this year, setting records and establishing himself as one of the greatest drivers of all time.
He won nine straight races to end the year and seemed ready to win just as many more if the season hadn't ended.
Sunday's win at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix was a perfect way to cap his impressive year. He matched Michael Schumacher's 2004 record of 13 wins in a season and equalled the nine consecutive wins of Alberto Ascari in 1952 and '53.
"I'm actually quite sad that this season comes to an end," Vettel said. "I think the last couple of races, really since the summer break, to win every race is unbelievable. The car has been phenomenal. Just kept getting better."
Vettel won four of the first 10 races and was untouchable in the last nine, facing no challenges from the rest of the field. The last time a different driver won an F1 race was in July.
Last week at the United States GP, he broke Schumacher's 2004 mark of seven straight wins. At the Indian GP, the 26-year-old German became the youngest driver to win four world championships.
"I don't think that he can quite believe what he has achieved," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "He has been so dominant. And I have said it before, he will continue to improve and we probably haven't seen the best of him."
Vettel knows he has to give a lot of credit to Red Bull, which was in a class of its own compared to the other teams this season. It easily won the constructors' championship — also its fourth straight — by 236 points over Mercedes.
"For all of us in the whole team we love coming to work and giving it all we have," Vettel said. "There's a great spirit and it's sad in a way that the year comes to an end, but that's how it is. I'm sure everyone's looking forward to a break to get the batteries charged and to look forward to next year."
And considering that everything will be different in F1 next year because of major engine changes, there is extra reason for Vettel and Red Bull to savour this season's achievement for as long as possible.
In addition to a new car next season, the team will also have a different driver lineup in 2014, with Daniel Ricciardo replacing fellow Australian Mark Webber, who left F1 after the Brazilian GP to join a sports car series.
"What we've achieved this year as a team is the result of working closer, working harder and working more effectively than any of the others," Horner said. "It is a combination of a lot of hard work and an unbelievable performance by Sebastian. He's driven with such consistency, such accuracy and such speed, so what he's achieved this year is outstanding. It has been an unbelievable year for him, for the team."
Vettel downplayed matching Ascari's record for most consecutive wins, saying his achievement can't be compared to a time when cars weren't nearly as reliable.
"It's a different type of record we got today. It's at a completely different time," Vettel said. "In the 50s the races were much longer and there were a lot of things that were breaking down. His record still stands out a lot. So at the end of the day, as I see it now, it's just a number, but hopefully one day, when I've got less hair and (I'm) chubby, then it's probably something nice to look back to."
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