GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #10 - Sebastian Vettel

05-03-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
F1 News
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #10 - Sebastian Vettel

Hello and welcome to the top ten of GPBlog’s countdown of our 50 greatest F1 drivers of all time! We’ve come all the way from 50 in this list, as we profile one legend of the sport every day before racing gets back underway at the Australian Grand Prix. Yesterday we looked at Spanish superstar Fernando Alonso, but today we’re going to be talking about one of his biggest rivals, Sebastian Vettel.

After a strong early career in junior formulae, Vettel became BMW Sauber’s test driver in 2007 and made his F1 debut after Robert Kubica was ruled out of the US Grand Prix with injury.

He finished eighth and impressed everybody, including the Red Bull programme he was part of, who replaced Scott Speed with the German for the latter stages of the 2007 season.

The move was made full time in 2008 and Vettel proved further that he had ability. He finished in the points on a regular basis, but the biggest moment of his short career so far came at the Italian Grand Prix.

In wet conditions he took a stunning pole position, and showed it was no fluke by converting it into race victory on the Sunday, one of F1’s most unexpected victories.

This was rewarded by a move to the senior team for 2009, and he recorded their first victory when he crossed the line first in China.

Vettel continued to win races but it wasn’t quite enough, missing out on the title to the incredible story of Jenson Button and Brawn GP.

In 2010, five drivers were looking to win the title as F1 moved towards the end of the season, with Vettel part of them. It looked as if he would fall by the wayside with four races to go, but three victories in four races made him the youngest champion of all time as teammate Mark Webber and Alonso finished down the order in Abu Dhabi.

In 2011 Vettel had really found his groove and cruised to another title, taking 15 pole positions and 11 race wins. This is where we started to see the classic Vettel style; take pole, get a good start, build a gap and never be seen again until he’s standing top of the podium.

2012 was more hard fought as the charging Alonso took him to the edge. Vettel was in the better car but Alonso was unbelievably determined, scoring results his car had no right to.

Alonso had the title lead until late in the season, when Vettel took four consecutive race wins in Asia, and just doing enough at the crazy final race of the season in Brazil, winning his third title by just three points.

The following season was one of the most dominant we have ever seen. It began with the controversial overtake on Webber in Malaysia when he was told to stay behind his Australian teammate, but finished with nine straight victories, matching the record set by Alberto Ascari in 1952-53.

A four time champion at age 26, people were starting to talk of Vettel breaking all records, but as the rules changed, so did Vettel’s form.

Mercedes took control in 2014 and Vettel trailed his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo, leading to him splitting with Red Bull and joining Ferrari.

His Ferrari life started well, winning in Malaysia, but it was soon obvious Mercedes were still top dog and Vettel had to settle for third in 2015 and fourth in 2016.

For 2017, Ferrari gave him a car capable of taking on Lewis Hamilton and he started the season in red hot form, taking three wins and three second places in the first six races.

A further win in Hungary gave him a 14 point lead over Hamilton heading into the summer break, but Hamilton turned into a different beast after the time off, winning five of the next six races and taking his fourth title.

It was a similar story in 2018 as Vettel made mistakes to allow Mercedes and Hamilton to profit and take the title again.

For 2019 Vettel was joined by youngster Charles Leclerc, and the young Monegasque ended up finishing ahead, scoring two wins to Vettel’s one.

What the future has to hold for Vettel is unknown. Whether he will ever make it five titles is difficult to say, but on occasions recently we’ve seen his true ability.

Vettel is a top class driver who deserves to go down as one of F1’s greats. His time at Red Bull is some of the highest quality driving we’ve ever seen in F1, and it would be lovely for him to round off his career with one final title, this time with Ferrari.

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