Written by Asmi Mathew, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Coming to know about the driver who won all the races held in your country makes you respect and love him way more than the other drivers. As an Indian, Sebastian Vettel is such a driver for many of us. Making his Formula 1 debut in 2007 US Grand Prix while replacing BMW driver Robert Kubica, Vettel became the then-youngest point scorer. He also holds a record for the shortest time elapsed as an F1 driver before receiving a penalty, getting one within six seconds of exiting his pit box, for speeding in the pit lane.
Signed by Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2008 Formula 1 season, this was Vettel’s first full season in the sport. Having DNFed six times in the entire season, one of the best things that happened to Vettel that year was his first win in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, at Monza. That was his team, Scuderia Toro Rosso’s home race. Winning in Monza made him the first race winner and only pole sitter for the team while also setting a record for becoming the youngest person to win a grand prix. This record was later broken by Max Verstappen in 2016.
After moving up to Red Bull Racing in 2009, Vettel won four races and stood on the podium eight times before finishing runner-up to Jenson Button, the world champion that year. This was only the beginning of the German's prime.
In only his third full year in Formula 1, Sebastian Vettel was crowned world champion of 2010 in Abu Dhabi after he won there. All the odds were against him, but he managed to cross the chequered flag in P1. This result gave us the famous radio message,"Du Bist Weltmeister". Vettel also became the youngest world champion at 23 years and 134 days, a record which stands till date.
Defending his first world championship, Vettel had a near-perfect season with a single DNF and top 4 race results for the whole year. After becoming a double world champion at the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix, the German driver ended the season in Brazil with 11 victories and 17 podiums.
After a rocky first half of the 2012 season, Vettel made an awesome recovery after the break, with four wins and seven podiums. The race that would decide the championship winner was the Brazilian Grand Prix. First lap chaos and a spin for Vettel caused him to drop down the order. When everyone thought that he had lost all chances and Fernando Alonso was clearly going to be crowned the champion, Vettel proved them wrong and finished the race in P6, becoming the champion of the world for the third time while defeating Alonso by just three points. This was also Michael Schumacher's final race in F1 in which he gave "one last gift" to his fellow German friend and helped him become world champion by letting Vettel past him.
2013 was a season in which Vettel seemed to be in a league of his own. He started the season with a podium and won 13 out of the 19 races on the calendar that year. We got to witness the sheer amount of dominance he held in Singapore when he got pole position from his garage. Vettel opted to stay in after setting a 1:42:841 lap time during his first few runs of Q3. Later, he went on to win the grand prix. Vettel won the championship in India with three races to go. This is where we got to witness the iconic sight of him kneeling before his RB9.
Vettel was absolutely despised by most Formula 1 fans for winning. He broke a number of records like most wins in a season by a driver (13), most pole positions in a season (15),most laps led in a season (739). The German also holds a record for the most consecutive race wins ,from the 2013 Belgian GP to the 2013 Brazilian GP, which is such a record that even after nine years, no one has come close to breaking it. He has the most consecutive grand slams (2) that came at the 2013 Singapore and Korean Grand Prix. He became the youngest world drivers' championship runner-up in 2009. He is the youngest driver to have scored a double and a hat-trick while also being the youngest pole-sitter in F1 history.
After a tough 2014 season, Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari in 2015 and went on to take 55 podiums and win 14 races with the team from Italy. Later on, in 2021, Vettel started a new era of his career with the Aston Martin Formula 1 team. He has scored two podiums till now, though he was disqualified from one of them. Over-all, he has the third-most race wins (53), podium finishes (122) and the fourth-most pole positions (57).
Vettel's prime is arguably one of the best we have gotten the chance to witness and the statistics from 2010-2013 prove to us that he was in a league of his own, and that no driver would be able to achieve this amount of success in such a short period of time. Aside from being a legendary driver, Vettel has been constantly advocating for human rights, global warming and such issues that require immediate attention. He has been using his platform the way every celebrity should be. Vettel has also shown us his love for the history of the sport when he named every single Formula 1 World Champion there has been, with relative ease in the finale of Grill The Grid 2021, leaving everyone in awe of his smarts.Sebastian has given so much to this sport and most of the time he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. People should show more respect for the four-time world champion and not act like he hasn't been an inspiration for countless others.