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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel
World Championships 4
Grand Prix Entries 133
Grand Prix Wins 39
Pole Positions 45
Nationality German
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel (GER) tests for Williams. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday 27 September 2005. World ©  Hartley/Sutton Sebastian Vettel (GER) Carlin Motorsport Macau GP Qualifying Day, Guia Circuit, Macau, China, 16th November 2006. World © Patching/Sutton Sebastian Vettel (GER) BMW Sauber Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Preparations, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 24 August 2006 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 20 October 2007 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 14 September 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 3 October 2009 Race winner and 2010 Champion Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 celebrates his third position and World Championship at the end of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 9 October 2011 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25 November 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8 crosses the finish line to the delight of his team as he takes his third F1 World Championship.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25 November 2012 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25 November 2012 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 performs doghnuts at the end of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium with the champagne.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013

History

The youngest ever world champion's accumulation of age-related records that began in 2010 continued for four consecutive seasons, culminating in a one-sided 2013 title triumph that confirmed his status as one of the sport’s all-time greats. Sebastian Vettel’s first championship, at the age of 23, provided a surprise ending to an intensely competitive 2010 campaign. There was surely more to come from this fast rising racer, and it came quickly when he completely dominated in 2011 to become the youngest double world champion. In 2012, with a series of comebacks from setbacks against the strongest opposition in the longest ever season, his third driving title in a row was hard-earned and well-deserved. In 2013, and still just 26 years old, he made short work of becoming the youngest ever quadruple world champion. In truth the precocious youngster who came so far so fast was in a hurry from the time he was a toddler...

Just three years and half years after he was born, on July 3, 1987, Sebastian Vettel began the way of life that would take him to the very pinnacle of motorsport. His method of transport was a miniature kart, the venue was the yard at his home in Heppenheim, a town in south-western Germany. Little Sebastian quickly mastered the machine and began lapping faster and faster, shrieking with glee and refusing to stop until he was exhausted. The source of little Seb's joy soon became a focal point of family life for the Vettels. Norbert, a carpenter by trade and in his spare time an enthusiastic karter and occasional hillclimber, and his wife Heike had three other children: older daughters Stefanie and Melanie, and a younger son Fabian. His family's support helped the would-be racer fulfil a destiny that would make the Vettel name a household word around the world.

He made his kart racing debut at the age of seven and immediately began winning races and championships. One of his early trophies was presented by his idol Michael Schumacher, who befriended the awestruck boy, noting their similar backgrounds and encouraging him to follow his passion and reach for the top. But that would take more money than the Vettels could afford. The solution came in the form of sponsorship from Red Bull, whose talent-spotters decided Sebastian was worthy of inclusion in the energy drink maker's young driver training programme.

Learning and improving all the time, he graduated with flying colours into single-seaters. As a 17-year-old schoolboy he won an unprecedented 18 of 20 races to dominate the German Formula BMW championship. At 18 he distinguished himself testing a BMW Williams F1 car. At 19 he became a test driver for the BMW Sauber F1 team, underlining his commitment to the cause by moving to a village near the Swiss-based team's headquarters. His Formula One race debut came in the 2007 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis. There, deputising for the injured Robert Kubica, he qualified seventh and finished eighth, becoming the youngest driver to score a championship point. In mid-summer the teenager became a full-time driver with the Red Bull-sponsored Toro Rosso team, where at first it seemed he had come too far too fast. In the wet Japanese Grand Prix, when they were running second and third behind the safety car, he needlessly collided with Red Bull's Mark Webber, putting them both out of the race. Impetuous yes, but also resilient. A week later, in China, Vettel climbed from 17th on the grid to finish fourth.

A full 2008 season with Toro Rosso included some uneven performances that were then overshadowed by a remarkable first ever victory for both Vettel and the smallest team on the grid. In Italy, on a superfast Monza track made treacherous by rain, the youngest ever polesitter made yet more history when he ran away with the race to become the youngest ever Grand Prix winner.

By now Formula One fans were getting to know the boy racer and they liked what they saw. He was cheerful and funny and radiated an infectious enthusiasm. His sunny disposition was a reflection of the pure pleasure he got from his profession. 'Drive My Car' by The Beatles was his favourite song. He loved off-beat British humour, notably Monty Python, Mr Bean and Little Britain. He admitted he was afraid of mice, but nothing about Formula One racing worried him. Beneath the happy-go-lucky demeanour was fierce ambition and profound self-belief in his ability to win the championship sooner than later.

In 2009 he was promoted to Red Bull Racing where he was teamed with the veteran Webber, a decade older and presumably wiser than the newcomer, though not faster as it turned out. Vettel's victory in the third race of season, in China, was Red Bull's first Formula One win. He dominated the last half of the season, winning three more races and finishing second to Jenson Button in the championship.

The longest ever season in 2010 was also one of the most closely contested. Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull had the best cars and their drivers won all 19 races. Though former champions Alonso, Button and Hamilton, together with Webber, took turns leading the championship, Sebastian Vettel's frontrunning pace - he started from pole 10 times - kept him in the title hunt. While their team's policy of letting them fight it out on the track led to a strained relationship between Vettel and Webber, their combined results enabled Red Bull Racing to clinch a first constructors' championship at the penultimate race, in Brazil, where Vettel led from start to finish.

In the grand finale at Abu Dhabi Vettel earned his fifth victory of the season with another flawless drive from pole. None of his rivals scored enough points to deprive Sebastian Vettel of the title he fully deserved. The 2010 world champion, aged 23 years and 133 days, was the youngest in the 61-year history of the sport.

His 2011 title defence amounted to a season-long victory parade in which he seemed to keep winning for fun - beating all comers on all types of circuits and clinching his second consecutive championship with four races to go. Granted, the Red Bull Racing RB7 was the class of the field (and the team repeated as constructors' champion), but it was his commanding personal performance - 11 wins, six other podiums and a record 15 poles in 19 races - that made 24-year-old Sebastian Vettel the youngest double world champion.

In 2012 Vettel triumphed over both adversity and formidable opposition that included five other champions: Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Raikkonen and Schumacher. In the 20-race season (the longest ever) made unpredictable by regulation changes, there were eight different winners from six teams. By mid-season Ferrari's hard-driving veteran Alonso (also pursuing a third drivers' title) had three victories (Vettel had one) and a substantial lead in the standings. Thereafter, taking full advantage of his steadily improving RB8 car, Vettel surged back into contention, scoring four race wins in a row plus three other podiums to lead the title race and help Red Bull Racing clinch its third successive team championship.

But the title bout between Vettel and Alonso was far from over and for the 27th time in history the championship was decided at the last race - this time in a Brazilian Grand Prix made chaotic by rain. Several times during the thrilling showdown the slippery pendulum of fate swung in favour of Alonso, who qualified seventh and eventually finished second. Vettel started fourth but his championship chances nosedived in the mayhem of a frantic first lap in which his RB8 was hit hard, sustaining permanent chassis damage and dropping to last place. Vettel responded to his misfortune with a masterful drive in an ailing car, finally emerging from the mist and spray to finish sixth and beat Alonso to the title by 3 points.

Sebastian Vettel proved he had come of age. The youngest triple champion’s three driving titles ranked him equal with such illustrious names as Brabham, Stewart, Lauda, Piquet and Senna. As a student of the sport’s history he was honoured to be in such company, though he remained humble about his achievements. As an essentially private person he steered clear of the celebrity culture in which he could easily have been the superstar he was fast becoming in his profession.

“Overwhelmed” was the word Vettel used to sum up his feelings on the victory podium at the 2013 Indian Grand Prix where he clinched his fourth consecutive championship by virtue of overwhelming the opposition. The champion’s feat came with his 10th victory (and his sixth in a row) in the 16th round of the 19-race season. As ever, ‘Seb’ profusely thanked his all-conquering Red Bull Racing team (which he led to a fourth consecutive constructors’ championship), paying particular tribute to the RB9’s brilliant designer Adrian Newey. Newey noted the young champion had matured into a nearly flawless driver and a peerless team leader. All Vettel’s rivals praised him, including his team mate Mark Webber whom he had beaten in Malaysia despite team orders to let Webber win. Immediately following the post-race ceremonies the record-setting champion pitched in to help his team pack up the equipment for shipment to the next race. He went on to win the remaining three races of 2013, thus equalling Ascari’s 60-year-old record of nine consecutive victories.

Vettel’s fourth driving title (which equalled Prost’s record) in as many years placed him in the select company of the two most successful champions Fangio and Schumacher, whose four-in-a-row achievements came when they were aged 45 and 32, respectively.

Sebastian Vettel did it when he was 26 years and 123 days old, giving him plenty of time to further rewrite the record books in which his name is already indelibly described.

Text - Gerald Donaldson