Sebastian Vettel made astonishingly rapid and successful progress through the lower ranks of motorsport. In 2010 he became the youngest ever Formula One world champion and he has held on to the title ever since.
Vettel spent eight years in karts, winning the German Junior Karting Championship, Monaco Kart Cup and European Junior Karting Championship in 2001. The following year he was sixth in the Senior ICA Kart Championship and then moved into car racing.
He finished second in the 2003 Formula BMW Germany championship and was top rookie. The following year, aged 17, he emphatically won the title, taking 18 wins from 20 starts and 387 points from a maximum of 400.
The following season he was fifth in the Formula Three Euroseries. The championship was dominated by Lewis Hamilton and ASM – Vettel’s ASL team didn’t win a single race, though he was the top rookie.
Thanks to his BMW connections Vettel made his debut as an F1 tester for the Williams team. Still aged only 18, he had to ask his school teacher for time off to do the test.
The following year Vettel joined Paul di Resta at ASM but finished second to his team mate in the championship. A debut appearance in the World Series by Renault proved much more fruitful – Vettel won both races at Misano.
He also appeared at the next round at Spa but badly injured his hand in a 170mph crash. His right index finger was almost severed and had to be stitched back together.
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Nonetheless Vettel joined BMW’s F1 team as a test driver and became their Friday driver after Robert Kubica was promoted to the race team in Jacques Villeneuve’s place.
Vettel was fastest of all in Friday practice at his first weekend in Turkey, where not only did he also become the youngest driver to participate in a Grand Prix weekend (aged 19 years and 53 days), but he also collected a fine for speeding in the pit lane on the way to the track for the first time.
Torro Rosso (2007-2008)
Vettel debuted for Torro Rosso at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix. During the race, Vettel crashed into Mark Webber causing both the participants to retire when he was third behind Hamilton and Webber. A ten-place grid penalty was waived when a spectator video showed that the crash was caused by Hamilton’s erratic behaviour behind the safety car. Vettel secured his career-best finish, the fourth position at the Chinese Grand Prix that year after starting 17th on the grid.
Vettel had a bad beginning to the 2008 season, retiring in three races out of the first four. He finished fifth at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix, picking up the first points of the season. At the age of 21 years and 74 days, Vettel became the then-youngest driver to win a Grand Prix.
Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix and became the youngest pole-sitter earlier that weekend. He was awarded the 2008 Rookie of the Year award at the Autosports Awards ceremony.
Red Bull (2009-2014)
At the inaugural 2009 Australian Grand Prix, Vettel collided with Robert Kubica when running second, causing both the drivers to retire. He, however, secured Red Bull’s maiden pole position and Grand Prix win at the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix.
Vettel went on to win the British Grand Prix and the Japanese Grand Prix from pole position and holding his position throughout the race in the latter. He won the inaugural day-night race, the first-ever in Formula One, at Abu Dhabi. He finished the season second, behind Jenson Button of Great Britain.
In 2010, Vettel secured pole position and led for most of the race at the Bahrain Grand Prix. But spark plug problems led to Vettel finishing in fourth place. Vettel secured his first Grand Prix victory of the season at Malaysia.
In Monaco, Red Bull scored a 1-2 win with Webber winning and Vettel finishing second. At the Turkish Grand Prix, the two drivers collided when Vettel made a passing move to secure the first place from Webber. Vettel had to retire from the race.
Vettel suffered a tyre puncture in Great Britain from pole, despite his damaged newly-designed wing being replaced with Webbers. Vettel, however, secured pole position in Japan and won the race. At the Korean Grand Prix, Vettel was forced to retire with engine problems.
Having won the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel was trailing Fernando Alonso by 15 points when he arrived in Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season. Vettel won the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole to become the youngest World Driver’s Champion at 23 years and 134 days of age.
Vettel got off to a good start in the 2011 season, winning the Australian and the Malaysian Grands Prix. A communication problem with his team meant poor tyre management in China where he finished second. He had a similar problem in Monaco where he switched to the one pit stop policy. He held off Alonso and Button as his tyres wore out, till the race was red-flagged. After a change of tyres Vattel easily won the race on resumption.
At the European Grand Prix, the FIA banned engine mapping. Yet, Vettel managed to record the fastest lap in the Valencia Street Circuit’s history and won the race, thus winning six of the eight races of the season.
In Britain, Vettel held off Webber to win the Grand Prix. Vettel qualified third in Germany and finished fourth, thus ending his run of 14 straight first row starts and top-two finishes. A tenth pole position meant that Vettel had equalled Ayrton Senna’s record of ten poles in two different seasons.
Winning the Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest ever back to back World Driver’s Champion. He won the Korean Grand Prix, becoming only the second driver to win ten Grands Prix in a season after Michael Schumacher.
In Brazil, Vettel became the first driver to win 15 pole positions in a year. With 15 poles, 11 victories and 17 podiums, Vettel amassed a record 392 points in 19 races at the end of the 2011 season winning second World Drivers’ Championship.
In 2012, Sebastian Vettel started by finishing second in Australia but failed to score points in Malaysia following a collision with Narain Karthikeyan of the HRT team. He won the Brazilian Grand Prix and three races followed without a podium finish.
Retirement in the Europen Grand Prix saw Vettel dropping to fourth place from the top place he held after his victory in Brazil. He finished fifth in Germany after going off the track when overtaking Button.
Vettel finished second in Belgium after starting tenth but retired due to alternator problems in Italy. He won the Singapore Grand Prix followed by a win in Japan, completing his second Grand Prix.
He won the Korean Grand Prix and led from the pole in the Indian Grand Prix maintaining his position. Told to stop during the qualifying, due to fuel pump issues, Vettel had to start from the pits in Abu Dhabi. He fought his way through the ranks and finished third.
Vettel was leading Alonso by 13 points when he started the last race in Brazil. Vettel spun during the first lap after an incident with Bruno Senna. He recovered and finished the race sixth, winning the 2012 World Drivers’ Championship becoming the youngest triple World Champion.
In the 2013 campaign, Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix. He followed it up with wins in Brazil and Canada but had to retire in Britain due to gearbox failure. He won for the first time on his home circuit in Germany.
He finished third in Hungary but won the last nine races of the season, sealing his fourth consecutive World Drivers’ Championship in India. He set the record for the most consecutive (nine) wins and became the youngest driver to do so.
Vettel had a rough time with reliability problems during the 2014 season and struggled to come to terms with the Red Bull RB 10. He finished the season with only three podium places and earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first reigning champion to finish a season without winning a race since Jacques Villeneuve in 1998.
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Vettel's Time With Ferrari(2014-2021)
The 2013 World Champion held the number 1 car for 2014, but switched to his permanent number 5 in 2015, the year he joined Scuderia Ferrari.
Vettel's most defining years in Ferrari were 2017 and 2018 when he put up a great battle with Lewis Hamilton, finishing second in both seasons. He termed it as a failure as he wasn’t able to replicate the title victory of his fellow countryman and idol Schumacher for Ferrari.
When asked about their favorite Formula 1 rivalries ahead of the Imola Grand Prix 2021, Alain Prost vs Ayrton Senna was picked out by Sebastian Vettel, while in Lewis Hamilton’s memory, his duels with the four-time world champion, Vettel, in 2017 and 2018, were his favorite. After no wins for over a year, Sebastian Vettel reclaimed the top grid by winning the Singapore GP in 2019.
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In 2021, the German left Ferrari for Aston Martin. The veteran, Sebastian Vettel, was placed alongside Aston Martin’s rising star Lance Stroll as his father, renowned businessman Lawrence Stroll, pumped in a £182m investment in Aston Martin to lead the struggling car manufacturer.
Although he had a rough year at Ferrari in 2020, Sebastian Vettel is now returning to form at Aston Martin. The stalwart driver has his head high and is putting up a challenge to the top drivers once again.
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Racing career summary
Race win percentage
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