He’s only 26 years old, but his short six-year career in Formula One is nothing short of spectacular when it comes to how dominant Sebastian Vettel and Infiniti Red Bull Racing have been over the past four years.
His performance at the Yas Marina Circuit this past weekend was nothing short of electric, as he took the lead from the very first corner and never looked back. Many of those watching F1 may say it is getting “boring,” as the man from Heppenheim won from teammate Mark Webber by around 30 seconds.
What a lot of people may forget is his rise to the top of the sport, as the Heppenheim native has been backed by the Red Bull Junior program for developing drivers since the age of 11. This young maestro of speed, who looked up to Michael Schumacher as one of his idols, has broken numerous records throughout his 118 starts in F1, which includes youngest race winner and youngest world champion in Formula One history, and is set to raise the bar for future generations that are currently knocking on the door of the sport.
His rise through the ranks to his current position has never been easy, especially when the spotlight is on a race driver from an early age. Karting started when he was just 3 and a half years old, before progressing up the ranks to the F3 EuroSeries, which supports the DTM, as well as the World Series by Renault, which is one of the feeder series to Formula One.
2005 saw Sebastian Vettel secure a test drive with Williams, before being employed by BMW Sauber as their third driver following Robert Kubica’s promotion the following season. It was only a matter of time before Sebastian Vettel made his debut, but that was in very somber circumstances, as a result of the Polish driver suffering a horrific accident at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2007.
Sebastian Vettel showed promise from the minute he has been behind the wheel of a race car, and in Indianapolis, he became the youngest points scorer in history, beating Jenson Button’s record from 2000 by around 70 days. His move to Scuderia Toro Rosso in late July of 2007 would see the man struggle, before he got into his stride. His very public crash with his soon-to-be teammate Webber during the Safety Car period at the Japanese Grand Prix in Fuji would not be the last time the two would clash, be it either on track or behind closed doors.
He then took the team’s first win the following year at Monza, leading from Pole Position and took the chequered flag 12.5 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, which is the only win the team has had to date, as well as their only podium. It was a way to make up for the bad starts in the beginning of the season, as by the time race five of the year came about, he had suffered an engine failure and three first lap incidents causing his retirement. See, the road travelled gets a bit rocky from time to time…..
2009 saw his promotion into Red Bull Racing alongside his current teammate and then things became rather serious. In an era when the double diffuser was king, the German driver was still making mistakes as he learnt his craft, but there was a definitive change that was on the horizon, which would see the rise of this young superstar hit a new high. Brawn GP may have had the edge at the beginning of the year, but Red Bull Racing was catching fast under the new regulations.
His efforts in the latter part of the season, which saw a stable and consistent form, was sometimes dogged by the reliability problems that the RB5 suffered from at races such as Valencia, helped him to finish runner-up to Jenson Button, who secured his first F1 title with Brawn GP picking up the Constructors’ Championship.
However, 2010 was that defining year for Sebastian, as the first title he secured in his career was not the easiest of all four that he now has to his name. Webber was the points leader after the 1-2 in Monaco where the Australian had won, but Sebastian Vettel was equal on points. The inter team battle was set to explode after events at Turkey, when both drivers were allowed to race each other, before it all got a bit too close for comfort.
The pair collided as Sebastian Vettel tried to get past, with both drivers not taking the onus for the situation that could have been avoided. It was just the start of what was later set to become a very bumpy affair throughout the year, especially when the front wings were swapped between Webber and Sebastian Vettel for Silverstone, which saw the latter secure Pole Position for the race. Mark went on to win the race with the older configuration front wing, whilst his young upstart of a teammate suffered an early puncture but fought back to 7th place.
Webber’s radio comment said it all: “Thanks guys. Not bad for a Number 2 driver,” which showed that there was a problem arising between two drivers that were equally looking for success of the highest order in the sport. Sebastian Vettel picked up his second win of the year at the European Grand Prix, having won the season opener in Bahrain. Japan saw him take another win before he suffered an engine failure at the first ever Korean Grand Prix, putting on the back foot.
He came back at Brazil, with the title race being between himself, his team mate Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, as the trio were only split by 15 points. But it was Vettel’s performance from pole position and his eventual win in the twilight that saw him become the youngest ever Formula One World Champion, with emotions running high after the flag fell and on the podium itself.
From that moment on, a star in the world of Formula One had come along and was breaking records along the way. Fast-forward to the present day and he now has joined both Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, as one of just three drivers that have won four titles in a row. There have been a lot of high notes along the way, along with plenty of success to celebrate, as Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel are the best of the best with both entities securing four successive championship titles alongside each other.
People may feel that he has to go to another team to prove himself to show how good he is, but as per Ayrton Senna’s move to McLaren in 1988, it is a case of being the best driver in the best car on the grid, so it may be seen as dominance. But when you have Adrian Newey as the Chief Technical Officer, who has been a part of 20 title wins throughout his tenure in Formula One at various teams including McLaren and Willams, he is the man that is helping a highly-competitive driver to race to win.
The car is the tool for the job in Formula One, but the driver’s efforts are what helps to make the car perform to its very best at the limit of performance. Away from the track, Sebastian Vettel is a down-to-earth individual, keeping his private life for himself and ensuring that the success doesn’t get to his head. He may have won four world championships in a row, but he looks to the “next race” as his next target, which is the most logical thing to do, as focusing on the task at hand makes it that little bit easier when getting behind the wheel.
The statistics speak for themselves, when it comes to his achievements in Formula One:
- 118 Race Starts
- 4 World Championships
- 43 Pole Positions
- 37 Race Victories
- 21 Fastest Laps
- 60 Podium Finishes
- 1,401 Career Points
The future is yet to be written, but you can be sure that Sebastian Vettel will be a part of it for many years to come, before he decides on his next challenge. The others on the grid won’t have it easy for a while yet…
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