Meet Sebastian Vettel, the youngest Formula One champ, a dangerous and daringly successful driver. G. RAGHUNATH
Quite the remarkable thing about Sebastian Vettel, the youngest World champion in Formula One, is his tenacity. His never-say-die spirit, which was strikingly evident in the last two races of the 2010 World Championship — the Brazilian Grand Prix (Interlagos) and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina) — marked him out as one who wouldn’t hesitate even for a moment to take the kind of risks only experienced drivers would dare to accept.
So, immediately after the Brazilian Grand Prix — which Vettel won handsomely to join the front-runners, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, in the shootout for the World title — when the newsmen, still sceptical of Vettel’s chances in the championship race, wanted to know if the German would be benevolent enough to sacrifice his personal ambition and help his team-mate Mark Webber win the World title, the youngster replied cynically, “Come on we have one full week to go (before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix). We’ll see.”
A few days later, Vettel is reported to have told the media, still eager to learn if he would assist Webber in winning the title from championship leader and hot favourite Fernando Alonso that he’s the last person to give up. “My chances? They are how they are, but as long as I have a tiny chance… ” Going into the decisive final grand prix in Abu Dhabi, Vettel, no doubt, was one of the contenders for the World title, but the money was riding heavily on Alonso and Webber who were both ahead of the German in points.
Swimming against the tide
Besides, Vettel hadn’t led the leader board throughout the season. And he had also not scored back-to-back victories this year. Therefore the odds were against Vettel — or so one thought — at the Yas Marina Circuit to swing the final race and with it the World Championship, his way. But as the race commenced, Vettel’s intentions were as clear as daylight. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Very very special
The year 2010 will have a special place in Vettel’s career. Not just for his World Championship victory, but his journey into becoming a mature driver. The German, without doubt, is an immensely gifted driver. He is also fast and aggressive. But then, there were occasions when it was pretty difficult to isolate his aggressive driving from recklessness. And this has been chiefly responsible for the numerous crashes he has been involved in. The accident in Istanbul during the Turkish Grand Prix, for example, is a stark reminder of Vettel’s bizarre driving. His collision with Webber busted a potential 1-2 finish for Red Bull. But as the season progressed, Vettel evolved well as a driver. He also imbibed a healthy work ethic at Red Bull (he is reported to be the first to enter the Red Bull garage and the last to leave, after every detail pertaining to the configuration of his car is settled). And the fact that he is a highly marketable star too helps a great deal. So, are we talking of a complete driver here?
Name: Sebastian Vettel
Date of birth: July 3, 1987
Team: Red Bull Racing
Championships: 1 — 2010
Pole positions: 15
Fastest laps: 6
Started racing karts at the age of eight. Competed in junior series, including the 2004 German Formula BMW championship where he won 18 of the 20 races.His performance there earned him a test drive with the Formula One team Williams-BMW.
In 2005 he was adjudged the ‘top rookie’ in the Formula Three Euroseries. The series was won by Lewis Hamilton.
In 2006 he became the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix weekend when he drove for BMW-Sauber in Friday practice in Turkey. He was 19 years and 53 days old then.
In 2007 he made his Formula One debut at Indianapolis when he replaced the injured Robert Kubica at BMW-Sauber. He finished eighth and became the youngest driver to score a point, aged 19 years and 349 days.
He raced for Toro Rosso in 2007, competing in seven grand prix. Offered a full race seat with Toro Rosso for 2008, but failed to finish in his first four races. He then won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza from pole. He, thus, became the youngest driver to start on pole (21 years and 72 days) and also the youngest ever winner (21 years and 73 days).
Moved to Red Bull in 2009 after Britain’s David Coulthard retired. He won four races in 2009, including Red Bull’s first victory at the Chinese Grand Prix where he also secured the team’s first pole position and led its first one-two finish.
Finished second in the 2009 championship, behind Briton Jenson Button of Brwan GP.This year, he won 10 pole positions and five races. He became the youngest World champion at 23 years and 135 days. The previous youngest was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in 2008, aged 23 and 301 days.He is only Germany’s second F1 world champion, after seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.
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