F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer concludes his look at Sebastian Vettel’s career to date with a look at his first two full seasons in F1.
Sebastian Vettel is among the favorites to win the European Grand Prix at Valencia – he had the fastest time in Q2 last year and qualified sixthon the grid. But then, we shouldn’t be surprised – he’s been contending in almost all the races this year, after all. Now we cover his 2008 and 2009 seasons to date.
2008: Vettel may not have had the best of starts to the season points-wise, but he was already on the pace early on. Here he is sticking his Toro Rosso into Q2 at Melbourne.
The pace of the Toro Rosso was getting better – they were now getting into Q3 regularly and scoring points, especially in Vettel’s case.
But this was nothing compared to Sebi’s weekend at Monza. A wet pole on merit and a lights-to-flag win – in a Toro Rosso, no less – underlined his great talent. He became the youngest-ever driver to win a Grand Prix.
Vettel’s other crowning moment that year was Brazil. In the closing stages, he made mincemeat of Lewis Hamilton, and put Felipe Massa in a position to win the title. Only the faltering Timo Glock allowed Hamilton to take the title on the very last lap.
2009: Many criticised Vettel’s move to Red Bull Racing this year. They felt Vettel signed too early for RBR and cost himself a shot at a bigger team. As it turned out, he made the right move at the right time. Adrian Newey’s interpretation of the new-for-2009 regulations was spot on.
This was somewhat obvious as Vettel found himself in second place at Melbourne, and closing in on Brawn’s Jenson Button in the closing stages. But BMW’s Kubica was closing in even quicker. Sadly, it ended in tears as Vettel tangled with Kubica in their battle for second. Both cars were out, and Brawn got a one-two on their debut.
But many only realised just how good a car Red Bull had in China. Once again, the wet conditions played into Vettel’s hands, and he led teammate Webber home in a crushing one-two. It was Red Bull’s first-ever win, and the Milton Keynes franchise’s first win since the 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. vettel was now considered to be a title contender.
That title challenge was initially derailed at Monaco. Not only were the Red Bulls slower than the Brawns, but they also had to deal with cars behind them. As Rob Smedley described Vettel and his woes, “His tyres are sh…ot.”
It was Vettel who ended Jenson Button’s winning run and ruined his Silverstone homecoming. Dominant again all weekend, Vettel was untouchable as he finally took his first dry win.
A forced retirement in Budapest last time out meant he fell behind teammate Webber in the championship. Vettel has some work to do if he’s to become the top challenger again to Button’s lead. But even if it doesn’t work out for him this year, he certainly has the pace and hunger needed to become a world champion in the very near future. Red Bull obviously have faith in him – he’s just been signed up until the end of 2011.