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Vettel compares his drive to Senna's run in 1991

Updated: November 27, 2011, 16:34

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, of Germany, steers his car during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Vettel finished second place. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

SAO PAULO(AP) Two-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel said he felt like the late Ayrton Senna at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday when he managed to finish second despite gearbox problems.

Vettel had to allow Red Bull teammate Mark Webber pass him for the lead nearly halfway through the race because of the faulty gearbox, but was still able to hold on for second.

Like Senna did when he won in his McLaren at Interlagos in 1991, Vettel said he had to find ways to negotiate the challenging track without some of the gears in his Red Bull.

"It was getting worse throughout the race so I was using higher gears pretty much everywhere and that's why the comparison came into my head,'' Vettel said.

In 1991, Senna started losing the gears with a few laps remaining and saw his 51-second advantage over Williams' Riccardo Patrese quickly diminish. The onboard camera showed the three-time world champion struggling with the car and not changing gears through most of the final lap, but he was still able to cross the finish line a few seconds in front of Patrese.

It was an emotional victory for Senna at the time, his first ever in front of his home crowd.

In Sunday's race, Vettel told his team over the radio that it felt like he was reliving Senna's run. The team's answer was quick, "be proud.''

"At some stage I said that 'I feel like Senna in 1991 when he had to manage the gearbox problem around here,''' Vettel said. "Obviously it was totally different for him, he was Brazilian and he still managed to win the race.''

Red Bull told Vettel early in the race that data from his car showed a gearbox problem and asked him to short shift when in second gear. The problem then got worse and the team later said Vettel had to short shift in every gear, considerably slowing his lap times.

He let Webber get past him on lap 30, but then was able to regain a pace competitive enough to hold off Jenson Button for second place.

"I hoped it would recover so I kept pushing, but it didn't happen and then the target was to see the checkered flag,'' Vettel said.

The 24-year-old Vettel had won his second consecutive Formula One title four races ago, at the Japanese GP.

Last year's winner in Brazil, Vettel dominated the 2012 season, winning 11 races and earning 15 pole positions to break the 19-year record set by Nigel Mansell with Williams in 1992.

"We had a great season,'' Vettel said. "It's really incredible, going into the season we thought we had a competitive car and that maybe we could win some races, but it has been phenomenal. The team has been faultless most of the time and raised their level massively compared to the last two years.''


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