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Sebastian Vettel

Formula 1 driver

Sebastian Vettel
Credit: Getty
Vital statistics for Sebastian Vettel
BirthplaceHeppenheim, Hesse, West Germany
Born3 July 1987
F1 debutUS Grand Prix, 2007
Driver number5
Current teamScuderia Ferrari
Recent fastest laps
2017Mexican Grand Prix
United States Grand Prix
Malaysian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has broken records at every step for becoming the youngest driver to achieve each feat, poles, wins, titles, and of course, becoming a quadruple consecutive champion. After showing promising early signs at Toro Rosso, the German was promoted to the Red Bull team, with whom he created a dominant force in the sport. He moved to Ferrari for 2015, winning three races in his first season with the Scuderia but things went downhill in 2016.

F1 biography

Sebastian Vettel began karting seriously at the age of eight, and continued until 2003. Having joined the Red Bull junior team, he had already paved the way for his path to Formula One, and one of the first steps was the German Formula BMW series, which he won at the first time of asking. The win gave him the opportunity to test a Williams and a further test with BMW Sauber.

In 2006, Vettel drove the F3 Euroseries and Formula Renault 3.5, but he was also signed to BMW Sauber as third driver. He impressed with fast times in testing, and was re-signed for the following season. In 2007, Vettel made his F1 debut, deputising for Robert Kubica at the US Grand Prix. He finished eighth, becoming the youngest driver to score an F1 point. When Kubica returned, Vettel still wanted to race, and he was released from his BMW Sauber contract to join Toro Rosso.

In 2008, despite being in an underperforming car, Sebastian Vettel took pole position and the victory at the Italian Grand Prix. That secured his promotion to the Red Bull team, with whom he made his debut in 2009, partnered with Mark Webber. In China, he secured the team’s first pole position and race win, setting yet more “youngest driver” records.

Vettel continued at Red Bull in 2010, and at the Turkish Grand Prix, the first of many teammate incidents occurred. Webber and Vettel collided, knocking Sebastian from the race, but neither driver accepted the blame for the accident. Later in the season, parts were taken from Webber’s car to give to Vettel, which didn’t help their relationship. For Sebastian, it was all in a good cause as he won the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi and took the championship at the final event.

Vettel and Red Bull dominated the 2011 season, despite the FIA’s attempts to clamp down on regulation loopholes that were helping the team get ahead. Vettel became the youngest double world champion in Japan, with four races left still to run. He followed it up by winning the championship in 2012 as well, albeit not quite in such a dominant fashion.

For the 2013 season, the relationship between Webber and Vettel would take a nosedive that it would never recover from. Vettel ignored a specific team order at the second race of the year, overtaking Webber for the win. It turned out to be an unnecessary move for the German, too, as he went on to win the last nine races of the year and secure his fourth consecutive world championship. Needless to say, he’s the youngest driver to achieve that feat.

Vettel remained with Red Bull for the 2014 season, partnered with Daniel Ricciardo. He found the new style of car much harder to deal with and found himself routinely outshone by his Australian teammate. Finishing fifth in the championship, and without a race victory during the year, was the final straw. Vettel confirmed he was looking for a new challenge and signed to the Ferrari team for the 2015 season. He won three races with the team during their first season together and looked as though he'd found another team he could feel at home with.

However, in 2016, the performance of the Ferrari dropped off and although Vettel finished on the podium on several occasions, there was no race win waiting for him. He was quite open about his frustrations with the team, and often took it out on other drivers as well, complaining about them over the team radio. He remains with Ferrari for the 2017 season but the results need to improve if their relationship is to continue much longer.

Learn more about Sebastian Vettel with the Pocket F1 Handbook.