Vettel at the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix
|Date of birth||3 July 1987|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|2010 team||Red Bull Racing|
|2010 car #||5|
|2011 team||Red Bull Racing|
|2011 car #||1|
|First race||2007 United States Grand Prix|
|First win||2008 Italian Grand Prix|
|Last win||2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|Last race||2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|2010 position||1st (256 pts)|
Vettel was born in Heppenheim, Germany. He began racing karts in 1995, and rose quickly through the junior series before being brought into Formula One by BMW Sauber. By taking part in Friday practice for the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest Formula One driver to drive at a Grand Prix meeting, at 19 years and 53 days. He went on to become the sixth youngest driver to start a Grand Prix at the 2007 US Grand Prix when he replaced the injured Robert Kubica and the youngest driver to score points in the same race. After moving to Toro Rosso, Vettel became the youngest driver to lead a race at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix. During qualifying for the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest Formula One driver to secure pole position. He went on to win the race, making him the youngest F1 race winner by nearly a year. In 2009, he joined Red Bull Racing and finished the season as the youngest ever runner-up behind Jenson Button, before winning the title in 2010 and becoming the youngest driver ever to win the championship.
Early and personal life
Vettel was born in Heppenheim, West Germany in July 1987. Vettel suggested in an interview that he was terrible at school; he also mentioned that his childhood heroes were "The three Michaels", who were Michael Schumacher, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan. He stated that he wanted to be a singer like Michael Jackson but realised that he couldn't as he didn't have the voice. He has one younger brother, Fabian and two older sisters Melanie and Stefanie. Vettel lives in Switzerland amongst other racing drivers and is a fan of German football team Eintracht Frankfurt. He is currently in a relationship with Hanna Prater, the two having known each other since school, but only beginning a relationship three years ago.
Vettel started racing karts in 1995, winning various titles such as the Junior Monaco Kart Cup (2001). In 2003, he upgraded to open-wheel cars, and won the 2004 German Formula BMW Championship with 18 victories from 20 races. In 2005 he drove for ASL Mucke Motorsport in the Formula Three Euroseries. He was placed fifth in the final standings with 64 points, winning the year's top rookie honours. He did not win any races, but this was largely due to the championship's domination by Lewis Hamilton. Despite this, he tested the Williams FW27 Formula One car on September 27 as a reward for this Formula BMW success. He then went on to test for the BMW Sauber team.
Vettel finished as runner-up in the 2006 F3 Euroseries, behind series leader and team mate Paul di Resta. He also made his debut in the World Series by Renault at Misano, winning after Pastor Maldonado was disqualified. However, at the next round at Spa-Francorchamps, his finger was almost sliced off by flying débris in an accident, and he was expected to be out of racing for several weeks.Nevertheless, he managed to compete in the Ultimate Masters of F3 at Zandvoort the following weekend, finishing in sixth place. He also set third fastest lap time, and it surprised his ASM team boss Frédéric Vasseur. Vasseur said: "I was impressed for sure, because at the beginning of the week I was sure he wouldn't race! But he showed good pace from the first practice session. I can't imagine he's 100 per cent but at least we know we can be competitive in the next F3 Euroseries round at the Nürburgring next weekend – that's important."
Vettel competed in the World Series by Renault in 2007, and took his first win at the Nürburgring. He was leading the championship when he was called up to Formula One permanently, and his seat was taken by Michael Ammermüller.
Vettel during practice at the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix
Vettel made his Formula One debut at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, driving for BMW Sauber.
2006–2007: BMW Sauber
Vettel became BMW Sauber's third driver at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, when former incumbent Robert Kubica was called up to replace Jacques Villeneuve for the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Vettel impressed on his testing debut by setting fastest time in second Friday Free Practice before the race. The young German also impressed on his second testing session in the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, setting the fastest time in both Friday practice sessions, a race weekend in which all the BMW cars were quick, with his predecessor Robert Kubica finishing on the podium in the race.
He was confirmed as BMW's test driver for 2007. Following the serious crash of regular BMW driver Kubica at the Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel substituted for him at the United States Grand Prix and started in seventh position on the grid, finishing in eighth position to take his first World Championship point and became the youngest driver ever to score a point in Formula One (at the age of 19 years and 349 days), a record previously held by Jenson Button – who was 20 years and 67 days old when he finished sixth at the 2000 Brazilian Grand Prix.
2007–2008: Toro Rosso
On July 31, 2007, BMW released Vettel to join Red Bull's Scuderia Toro Rosso team, replacing Scott Speed as one of its drivers from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards. He earned approximately US$165,000 for finishing the season with Toro Rosso.Before the race, it was also announced that Vettel would drive for Toro Rosso in 2008, partnering Sébastien Bourdais.
Vettel driving the Toro Rosso STR2 at the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix
Vettel struggled to keep up with Liuzzi's pace at Budapest, Istanbul, Monza and Spa, and never managed to progress amongst the lower-midfield pack (Toyota, Honda, Toro Rosso, Super Aguri). In the rain-hit Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, Vettel worked his way up to third behind Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, and seemed to be on course for not only his but also Toro Rosso's maiden podium finish. However, Vettel crashed into Webber under safety car conditions taking them both out of the race and prompting Webber to say to ITV reporter Louise Goodman "It's kids isn't it... kids with not enough experience – they do a good job and then they fuck it all up." He was initially punished with a ten-place grid penalty for the following race, but this was lifted after a spectator video on YouTube showed the incident may have been caused by Hamilton's behaviour behind the safety car, which Hamilton was also cleared of.
However, Vettel bounced back to finish a career-best fourth a week later at the Chinese Grand Prix having started 17th in mixed conditions. He collected five championship points, making it both his and Toro Rosso's best race result.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz stated his belief Vettel would be one of Formula One's big stars in the future. "Vettel is one of the young guys with extraordinary potential He is fast, he is intelligent, and he is very interested in the technical side."
After four races of the 2008 season, Vettel was the only driver to have failed to finish a single race, having retired on the first lap in three of them. In each of these three instances, he was involved in accidents caused by other drivers, the other being an engine failure. However, at the fifth round at the Turkish Grand Prix, he finally saw the chequered flag, albeit finishing in 17th after qualifying 14th and suffered a puncture on the opening lap. In the next race at the Monaco Grand Prix, Vettel scored his first points of the season with a fifth place finish, after qualifing 17th. He scored again at the Canadian Grand Prix fighting off Heikki Kovalainen in the last few laps for the final championship point, having started from pit lane. Vettel finished 12th in France, before retiring on lap one at the wet British Grand Prix after being clipped by David Coulthard and aquaplaned into the gravel trap along with Coulthard. He earned another point at the German Grand Prix, fending off Fernando Alonso and securing eighth after Jarno Trulli ran wide. Vettel retired in Hungary after his engine overheated during his first pit stop. He impressed many at the European Grand Prix by setting the fastest times in the first practice session and second qualifying session, before qualifying sixth on the grid. Vettel finished the race in sixth, two seconds behind Jarno Trulli.
Vettel driving for Toro Rosso at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix
At the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest driver in history to win a Formula One Grand Prix. Aged 21 years and 74 days, Vettel broke the record set by Fernando Alonso at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix by 317 days as he won in wet conditions at Monza. Vettel led for the majority of the Grand Prix and crossed the finish line 12.5 seconds ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen. Earlier in the weekend, he had already become the youngest polesitter, after setting the fastest times in both Q2 and Q3 qualifying stages, and his win also gave him the record of youngest podium-finisher. Toro Rosso team boss Gerhard Berger said, "As he proved today, he can win races, but he's going to win world championships. He's a cool guy". Hamilton praised the German, stating that this victory showed "how good he is". The nature of the victory and the story of the 21 year old's fledgling career led the German media to dub him "baby Schumi", although Vettel was quick to downplay the expectation the result has brought, particularly the comparison with the seven-time World Champion: "To compare me with Michael Schumacher is just a bit ridiculous...It will be difficult in normal conditions for us to repeat this achievement". He then went on to finish fifth in Singapore. In Japan, he finished sixth after being promoted from seventh after team-mate Bourdais was penalised for contact with Felipe Massa.
In the Brazilian Grand Prix, after running second for much of the race on a one-stop strategy, Vettel overtook Lewis Hamilton in the rain for fifth place on the penultimate lap to contribute to a thrilling climax to the season. He nearly deprived the McLaren driver of the championship before Timo Glock slowed dramatically on the last lap (he was struggling with dry tyres in the ever increasing rain) enabling both Vettel and Hamilton to pass him, earning Hamilton the title, and Vettel fourth place.
After the season had finished Vettel was named Autosport Rookie of the Year.
Red Bull Racing
Vettel at the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix, where he took his fourth career win
At the start of the 2009 season, Vettel replaced the retired David Coulthard at Red Bull Racing, and began strongly at the Australian Grand Prix, qualifying third and running in second for the majority of the race. However, a clash with Robert Kubica over second place on the third to last lap of the race forced both to retire. Vettel attempted to finish the race on three wheels behind the safety car to salvage some points, but eventually pulled off to the side. He thought that he would be able to attempt this because the yellow flag resulting from his incident forbids overtaking; instead he was given a ten-place grid penalty for the next race, the Malaysian Grand Prix, and his team was fined for instructing him to stay on track after the damage occurred. In Malaysia he qualified in third position, but was demoted down to 13th due to his ten-place grid drop. He spun out of the race while eighth, just before the race was stopped due to adverse weather conditions. However in China he went on to take pole position, the first for the Red Bull Racing team. He went on to win the race ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, again a first for his team, which scored its first victory and one-two finish in the same race.
In the Bahrain Grand Prix, Vettel qualified in third, and finished second behind Jenson Button in the race. In Spain, he qualified in second but finished the race in fourth, behind his team-mate Mark Webber who finished in third. Vettel won the British Grand Prix after claiming pole position in qualifying. At the German Grand Prix he qualified fourth and finished second, behind Webber, who won his first Grand Prix. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel qualified second after an eventful qualifying, but had to retire from the race on lap 30 after his car sustained damage from contact with Kimi Räikkönen's car on the first lap.
At the European Grand Prix, he qualified fourth but had to retire from the race with an engine failure. It was the second engine failure for Vettel during the weekend, and the RB5's reliability issues began to show. He finished third at Spa-Francorchamps, and struggled for pace at Monza, finishing 8th at a race he previously won. He qualified 2nd at Singapore, but was given a drive-though penalty for speeding in the pit lane and damaged the diffuser on a kerb, struggling to 4th. He subsequently won the Japanese Grand Prix from pole position.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel qualified 16th in a rain-hit session, behind title rival Jenson Button (14th) and Rubens Barrichello (1st), while his team-mate Webber qualified second with Adrian Sutil in third. Vettel needed to score at least second place in the race to keep his title hopes alive. He finished fourth with Button behind, giving Button the Championship and moving Vettel up into second place. He officially claimed second place by winning the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, again ahead of Webber with Button completing the podium. He also scored his third fastest lap of the year, drawing him level with team-mate Webber. However, as Vettel had more second fastest laps, he won the 2009 DHL Fastest Lap Award.
Vettel driving for Red Bull Racing at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, where he took the first pole position of the season
Vettel continued with Red Bull for 2010, and took the first pole position of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Vettel went on to lead most of the race but a spark-plug failure meant that his lap times slowed down, and as a result the two Ferraris and the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton passed him. After a brief challenge from Rosberg he brought the car home in fourth.
At the Australian Grand Prix, Vettel was appointed as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. He took his second consecutive pole position in Australia, ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, but spun off when leading the race, due to a loose wheel nut. In Malaysia, he took his first win of the 2010 season with Webber coming in second place, having passed both him and Nico Rosberg at turn one.
Vettel qualified on pole at China alongside Webber. At the start of the wet race Fernando Alonso jump-started and Vettel was passed by Webber, dropping back to third. The increasing rain forced Vettel and Webber to pit at the same time for intermediate tyres that wore out after only a few laps and dropped them back into the midfield. Vettel slowly climbed back up to finish sixth, ahead of Webber. In Spain, Vettel was outqualified by team-mate Webber and claimed second on the grid. Despite having a major brake problem during the last eight laps, Vettel managed third place after Hamilton crashed on the penultimate lap.
In Monaco Vettel was again outqualified by Webber. In the race he passed Kubica at the start and stayed there for the remainder of the Grand Prix and made it a Red Bull 1–2. After the race the two Red Bull drivers were equal on points in the drivers' championship, with Webber championship leader based on total wins. At the Turkish Grand Prix he qualified third and was running second behind Webber when he made a passing move on the Australian. Vettel lost control of his car and the two collided, putting Vettel out of the race and dropping him to fifth in the drivers' championship, with neither driver accepting responsibility for causing the collision. He finished fourth at the Canadian Grand Prix, maintaining his position in the standings. He started the European Grand Prix in pole position and led from start to finish to score his second win of the season.
At Silverstone, both Vettel and Webber's cars were fitted with a new design of front wing. Vettel's front wing was damaged in the third practice session, and Webber's sole surviving example was removed and given to Vettel. Vettel qualified in pole position ahead of his team-mate, but suffered a puncture caused by Hamilton on the first lap of the race and fell to the tail of the field. He fought back to finish seventh while Webber took the victory. At the German Grand Prix he took pole by 0.002 seconds, and finished in third position in the race, behind the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa, after a poor start. He also finished third in Hungary after serving a drive-through penalty for exceeding ten lengths behind the previous car, team-mate Webber, under neutralised safety car conditions. In Belgium, he had a tough race, hitting Button's car whilst attempting to pass, causing Button to retire. Vettel pitted and carried on, but then suffered a puncture whilst passing Liuzzi at the same place, completing a whole lap with a puncture. He eventually finished 15th. At Monza he finished fourth after a brake problem scare, and at the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel qualified and finished second, sticking on Alonso's tail for most of the race. He passed Button for fourth place in the championship. At the Japanese Grand Prix, he dominated all practice sessions bar one, as it was postponed after heavy rain. He qualified on pole ahead of team mate Webber and went on to win with a lights-to-flag victory. At the first Korean Grand Prix, Vettel took pole and led the first 45 laps of the race before retiring with engine failure, handing victory to Alonso.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel qualified second but took the lead at the first corner and led for the entire race to victory. With Webber taking second place, and Alonso finishing third, Vettel went into the final race of the season with a 15-point deficit to Alonso, and a 7-point gap to Webber. With the one-two finish in Brazil, Vettel and Webber secured Red Bull Racing's first Formula One World Constructors' Championship. He won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole again, to take the drivers' championship lead for the first time in his career and became the youngest world champion in the sport's history.
On 21 August 2009 it was announced that Red Bull and Vettel have extended his contract until the end of the 2011 season with an option for 2012.
Race of Champions
Vettel competed in the 2007 Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium, representing the German team alongside Michael Schumacher. Vettel and Schumacher won the Nation's Cup Title, after exciting finals. Vettel had to beat two RoC champions, Heikki Kovalainen and Marcus Grönholm, after Schumacher stalled his car. Vettel lost the individual competition however, in first heat, in his second battle against Kovalainen. Vettel also competed in the 2008 Race of Champions, alongside Michael Schumacher. Once again they won the Nation's Cup Title after a close final against Scandinavia. In the Driver's Cup, Vettel beat Troy Bayliss in Round One, but lost to Sebastien Loeb in the Quarter-Finals. Again Vettel teamed up with Michael Schumacher for the 2009 RoC Nations Cup, which they went on to win in a run-off against the Great Britain team of Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx. In the 2010 edition, on home ground in Düsseldorf, Vettel again teamed up with Schumacher to win the Nations Cup for the fourth time in a row. In the Driver's Cup, Vettel was eliminated in the semi-finals by Filipe Albuquerque, who went on to win the event.
The Bergstraße coat of arms that appears on the chin area of Vettel's helmet
Vettel's helmet, like most of Red Bull's drivers, is heavily influenced by the energy drink company logo. Apart from minor changes and sponsorship differences, it has rarely changed over the years since he has been backed by Red Bull.
New to Vettel's helmet since the start of 2008 has been the incorporation of the Kreis Bergstraße coat of arms on the front, just underneath the visor, in honor of the region of his birthplace, Heppenheim.
During pre-season testing for 2010, Vettel debuted a helmet resembling a Red Bull drink can complete with graphics of a stay-tab opener on top—which would become a recurring element in his helmets for this season. During the 2010 season, Vettel has used three main helmet designs, although he made some minor changes to some in certain races: besides his standard black helmet, he has used one with the same design but in chrome colors. For the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel had a special white-red helmet design, with black kanji for "gives you wings".
Comparison to Michael Schumacher
After Vettel's unexpected win in Monza, this led for the media to dub him the "Baby Schumi", "New Schumacher", but Vettel plays down the comparison stating he wanted to be the "New Vettel". He wasn't just dubbed for his nationality but also because of his driving style, his concentration and the hands-on role he plays behind the scenes with his team of engineers. One difference is that Schumacher doesn't name his car but Vettel does, Julie (2008), Kate, Kate's Dirty Sister (2009), Luscious Liz and Randy Mandy (2010). The Luscious Liz chassis was notably flawed and Vettel complained about the problem after the Monaco GP; citing handling issues as a possible explanation for his lack of pace compared to teammate Webber. The damaged chassis was later given to Mark Webber after repairs, escalating intra-team tension prior to the front wing dispute at the 2010 British Grand Prix. Webber went on to win the British Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the repaired chassis.
Nevertheless, the similarities are marked. Like Schumacher, Vettel grew up in a small town with an everyday background—Schumacher's father a bricklayer and Vettel's a carpenter. Both had their first taste of racing at the Kerpen karting track near Cologne, not far from the Nürburgring. Vettel began driving in his garden lapping the garden many times, not even stopping to eat or shower, before he could legally take to the roads, and says his passion for cars was nurtured by watching Schumacher compete. He did not know that he would actually get to race his hero.
Although winning his first championship in 2010, and being hailed as the 'Next Schumacher', he has stated he does not want to aim for Schumacher's record after learning how hard it was to get one championship under his belt, though he would like to win more.
|2003||Formula BMW ADAC||Eifelland Racing||19||5||5||4||12||216||2nd|
|2004||Formula BMW ADAC||ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg||20||18||14||13||20||387||1st|
|2005||Formula 3 Euro Series||ASL Mücke Motorsport||20||0||0||1||5||57||5th|
|Masters of Formula 3||1||0||0||0||0||N/A||11th|
|Spanish Formula Three Championship||Racing Engineering||1||0||0||0||1||8||15th|
|Macau Grand Prix||ASM F3||1||0||0||0||1||N/A||3rd|
|2006||Formula 3 Euro Series||ASM Formule 3||20||4||1||5||9||75||2nd|
|Macau Grand Prix||1||0||0||0||0||N/A||23rd|
|Formula Renault 3.5 Series||Carlin Motorsport||3||1||1||0||2||28||15th|
|Masters of Formula 3||ASL Mücke Motorsport||1||0||0||0||0||N/A||6th|
|2007||Formula Renault 3.5 Series||Carlin Motorsport||7||1||1||1||4||74||5th|
|Formula One||BMW Sauber F1 Team||1||0||0||0||0||6||14th|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso||7||0||0||0||0|
|2008||Formula One||Scuderia Toro Rosso||18||1||1||0||1||35||8th|
|2009||Formula One||Red Bull Racing||17||4||4||3||8||84||2nd|
|2010||Formula One||Red Bull Racing||19||5||10||3||10||256||1st|