AUSTIN - World champion Sebastian Vettel won a record eighth successive race when he triumphed in Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

The German Red Bull driver beat Michael Schumacher's previous record of seven wins in a row in the same season set in 2004. France's Romain Grosjean, in a Lotus, was second with Red Bull's Mark Webber taking third. Vettel's win was not only his eighth in a row, but also his 12th of the season and the 38th in his short, but brilliant career of just 119 races.

It was also his first in America leaving only the Hungarian Grand Prix as a venue where he has yet to triumph. Asked on the victors' podium by American Mario Andretti, the 1978 world champion, to explain his secret for success, Vettel admitted: "I don't know how I do it, if I'm honest. "It's impossible to know what to say, but I want to say thanks to the crowd. It's unbelievable to have more than 100,000 here on Sunday in only our second year. The city is going crazy.

"The car was fantastic. It was a bit tight at the start, Romain had a good start and I didn't know if it would be enough. "We had good pace though and could control the gaps for eight wins in a row. My debut was in 2007 in Indianapolis so to come back last year, podium, and win today -- it's fantastic." Starting from pole, the 26-year-old German controlled the race from lights to flag with a consummate demonstration of skill and speed at the wheel of his equally dominant Red Bull.

If he wins the year-ender in Brazil next Sunday, he will equal Schumacher's 2004 record of 13 in a season with Ferrari. It was in that series that Schumacher reeled off his now-beaten record of seven straight wins as he delivered his seventh and final drivers' title success. That remains another statistical landmark for Vettel to pass. Grosjean followed him home, 6.284 seconds adrift, for Lotus, equalling his best result.

"It was a good race for me," he said. "I had a good start and I got past Mark and almost caught Seb. The car worked well and I'm very proud to represent Lotus." Vettel's team-mate, retirement-bound Australian Mark Webber, third, claiming his 40th career podium. Webber, who will be sportscar racing with Porsche next year, said: "I think pole was very important yesterday and it probably cost me a better result today. "I should have qualified better and it was difficult to be in a good position on Turn One from there. We all wanted to be on the outside." Lewis Hamilton finished fourth for Mercedes ahead of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber and Sergio Perez of McLaren. "I am so happy for the team," said Hamilton. "It was good for me to be able to make a real contribution."

Finn Valtteri Bottas delivered a superb eighth for the Williams team, his first points-scoring finish which tripled their season total, ahead of Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes and 10th placed Jenson Button in the second McLaren. Button, in his 246th race, equalled the British record for Grand Prix starts held by David Coulthard, a former Red Bull team-mate of Webber's. A perfect day's racing was only clouded by a first lap collision involving the unhappy Pastor Maldonado, in a Williams, and luckless Adrian Sutil of Force India which brought out the Safety Car. Both were unhurt but Sutil's car was wrecked after hitting the barriers.