Sebastian Vettel turns in superlative Race of Champions performance

MIAMI -- No teammate? No problem for Sebastian Vettel.

The four-time Formula One World Champion was Germany's sole representative in Sunday's Race of Champions Nation's Cup competition, after teammate Pascal Wehrlein was withdrawn as a precaution after he flipped a vehicle in an accident the day before.

Vettel turned the extra seat time into an advantage in an event in which drivers are required to quickly adapt to a series of unfamiliar cars.

He dispatched the Team Colombia duo of Juan Pablo Montoya (who earned the event's individual "Champion of Champions" crown on Saturday) and Gabby Chavez before squaring off against the Team USA NASCAR pairing of Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch in the finals.

"Maybe it helped after yesterday to take it a bit more serious," Vettel said. "I started on the wrong foot yesterday, and maybe I just needed more time on the track. It obviously worked out very nicely today."

The Busch brothers reached the final in controversial fashion, as Kurt Busch appeared to jump the start in his semifinal heat against Team USA IndyCar's Alexander Rossi.

Neither Busch was able to overcome Vettel, who was unbeaten Sunday after his shocking early exit from Saturday's individual competition, in which he was edged by Travis Pastrana in a photo finish. Vettel defeated Kurt Busch by 1.12 seconds and Kyle by a 0.44-second margin over the 1,700-foot paved road course located inside Miami's Marlins Park.

It marked the seventh time that Vettel was part of Germany's winning team in the ROC Nation's Cup. He teamed with Michael Schumacher to win the event six years in a row from 2006-12.

"It's a great competition," Vettel said. "The bigger trophy was there yesterday to grasp, but I wanted to make sure I didn't leave the States empty-handed."

Despite losing in the Nations' Cup final, the Busch brothers said they found the ROC experience appealing and hope to participate again in the future.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end," Kurt Busch said. "When you get into that rhythm, that's when you get into the flow of ROC. We definitely wanted to advance out of our group ahead of the IndyCar guys and the rally guys, so it was a great day, for sure."

"Maybe one of these days, they'll set up an oval course for us, and we'll see what happens," Kyle Busch said. "I got beat by [ex-F1 star David] Coulthard and Vettel, but those are a couple pretty good guys to lose to."

The USA also came up short in a new "America vs. The World" competition added to this year's ROC. Kyle Busch defeated F1 star Jenson Button to give the U.S. a 7-5 advantage in the Ryder Cup-style point competition, but Global Rallycross champion Petter Solberg took care of American Scott Speed in the final heat, worth three points, for a final score of 8-7.

"It was some pressure, I must admit," Solberg said. "I went flat out, proper rally-style, and it worked out really good. The American drivers are fast and good fun. I had a great time."

Despite the presence of the Busch brothers and several local IndyCar stars, including Montoya, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Race of Champions drew a small crowd estimated at 5,000.

Despite that, event CEO Frederik Johnsson said Miami is likely to be added to the rotation of ROC venues, which include London, Paris and Barbados.

"After London last year, when it was so cold, we felt south Florida and Miami was the perfect place for it," Johnsson said. "We had perfect weather, and it's great to see such hard competition on the track with such great camaraderie on the side."

The drivers were generally complimentary about the 1,700-foot figure eight track.

"I've raced in a baseball stadium before I saw a baseball game. That's pretty unusual," Vettel said.

"I watched basketball the other day [a Miami Heat game at American Airlines Arena], and that was great fun, but the stadium is a bit small for racing."