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Winning is what gets Vettel's heart racing

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany arrives at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas November 14, 2013. REUTERS/A
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany arrives at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas November 14, 2013. REUTERS/A

By Steve Keating

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Winning, more than setting records, is what sets Sebastian Vettel's heart racing but Red Bull's quadruple Formula One world champion plans to do both at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 26-year-old German will become the first driver since the championship started in 1950 to chalk up eight victories in a row in a single season if he wins at the Circuit of the Americas.

"It's a long weekend and I am not really here to break a record," Vettel told reporters on Thursday.

"It is a nice grand prix, a nice weekend and surely I wouldn't mind if that turns out to be the case but it is not the reason I jump into the car."

Vettel won the previous race in Abu Dhabi by a massive margin to equal compatriot Michael Schumacher's 2004 run of seven in a row and, with 11 victories to his credit in 2013, is also on course to equal Schumacher's record 13 wins in a season.

Last year when he arrived at the track carved spectacularly out of the south Texas scrublands for the inaugural race there, there was tension as the German and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took the battle for the title down to the final two races.

This year, with the title long ago secured, a more relaxed Vettel seemed intent on enjoying his time in America where unlike most of the world he can walk the streets in relative anonymity.

"Obviously it is different from last year where we had only two races to go and Austin was the last race before the final in Brazil," he said.

"It is more relaxed in that regard because the potential of the championship is not there anymore," added the champion, who clinched the title in India last month. "But we are looking forward to the race and we want to get our things right.

"Last year we were very close to winning here and didn't get there in the end and hopefully we get there this year."

Overhauled by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton over the closing laps last year, Vettel wants the top spot in Texas this year.

But the 26-year-old German also allowed himself the time to savor some of the other things a Formula One race in the United States can offer one of the world's most recognizable and successful athletes.

"It's also nice to walk around and do normal things and just blend in," said Vettel. "People don't know me here. I don't mind at all, quite the opposite, I like that.

"It's a very beautiful country, it's huge, you would need a lot of time to explore and I hope to do that one day properly."

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)

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