Schumacher happy not to be racing Vettel

REUTERS - Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher hailed Sebastian Vettel's record-breaking Formula One season on Friday and said the gulf between his fellow German and his Red Bull team mate Mark Webber had been 'shocking'.

Vettel ended the year as the first driver to win nine races in a row in a single season. His total of 13 for the championship equalled Schumacher's record 2004 haul with Ferrari.

"He won all those races, 13 this year; Mark Webber, he won none. That is pretty shocking," Schumacher said in a season review posted by the Mercedes team on You Tube on Friday.

"I'm glad I'm not his (Vettel's) team mate."

Webber departed Formula One at the end of the season to join Porsche in endurance racing, with Australian compatriot Daniel Ricciardo replacing him.

Schumacher said he was happy for Vettel, the youngest quadruple champion at 26.

"If somebody can break all these records I prefer it to be him, than somebody else," added the German, who left the sport at the end of last season after coming out of retirement for three years with Mercedes.

Mercedes ended last season as overall runners-up to Red Bull, a big improvement on fifth place in 2012, with Germany's Nico Rosberg and Britain's Lewis Hamilton both winning races.

Schumacher, who is good friends with Vettel and races with him in the annual race of Champions event as Team Germany, said he had no regrets about his second retirement.

He felt Mercedes, who announced on Thursday that his old friend, ally and principal Ross Brawn was leaving at the end of the year, would be able to launch a real championship challenge in 2014.

"Everything now is there to have the base to fight the championship in the future. And that's what I think can happen," he said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips.)

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