Sebastian Vettel – The Glory Days 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14: Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2nd left) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Motorsport Consultant Dr Helmut Marko (left), Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey (2nd right) and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (right) in their team garage following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Christian Horner; Adrian Newey; Helmut Marko // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201412040507 // Usage for editorial use only //
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14: Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (2nd left) of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Red Bull Racing Motorsport Consultant Dr Helmut Marko (left), Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey (2nd right) and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (right) in their team garage following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel; Christian Horner; Adrian Newey; Helmut Marko // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201412040507 // Usage for editorial use only //

This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be one tinged with sadness. Firstly, it will bring the curtain down on the 2022 season, a campaign that has been dominated by the brilliant Max Verstappen and Red Bull. The Flying Dutchman had the title wrapped up with some four weekends to spare and has won a record-breaking 14 races. Oddschecker, which compares Formula One odds and offers, has made Super Max the favorite for victory once again in the Arabian Gulf State, and Red Bull’s leading driver will be hoping to end the season in style. 

But secondly, and more importantly, this weekend will be Sebastian Vettel’s final weekend as a Formula One driver. The four-time world champion announced back in July that he will be bringing the curtain down on a stellar 15-year career.at the end of the current season, and now that moment is finally here. The 35-year-old has been as incredible off the track as he has been on it in recent years. He has clearly shown his support for causes such as racial equality and for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as appearing on the BBC show Newsnight to discuss climate change and the use of fossil fuels. 

His exploits prompted seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to say the following when he heard the news of his upcoming retirement: “He has been one of the very, very few drivers in F1 history that has stood for much more than himself.” We couldn’t have put it any better. 

But with that being said, it’s not his activism or his comedic genius that we’ll be focusing on. It’s his racing. And Sebastian, you were, and still are, one of the very best. 

The early years 

F1 Grand Prix Of Japan Qualifying

Vettel made his debut midway through the 2007 season, filling in at BMW Sauber for the injured Robert Kubica, who had a horror crash in Montreal a week prior. The 19-year-old German immediately impressed, becoming the youngest driver in Formula One history to score a point on their debut. 

That performance prompted Italian minnows Toro Rosso – Red Bull’s new sister team – to snap Vettel up for the 2008 campaign. And despite not finishing any of his first four Grand Prix races,  he wouldn’t disappoint. The young driver found his footing during the second half of the season, securing a string of points finishes before his crowning moment at the Italian Grand Prix when he dragged his Toro Rosso – which had “Minardi DNA coursing through its veins” – to a maiden victory at Monza.

His performances earned him a call-up to the works Red Bull team for the 2009 season, and there he would go from strength to strength. 

Four consecutive World Championships

The 2009 season was Red Bull’s fourth in Formula One, and they finally made their way to the front of the grid. Vettel gave the team their first win at the Chinese Grand Prix and, had it not been for the brilliant Jenson Button – who won six of the first seven races – they may have competed for the championship that year. 

Red Bull wouldn’t have to wait long for that maiden championship, however, and it was their 23-year-old upstart that would deliver it to them. Following an epic four-way battle between Vettel, teammate Mark Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, it all came down to the final race in Abu Dhabi. Following poor strategy calls for both Webber and Alonso, it was Vettel who kept his nerve to seal his fifth win of the season and his maiden world championship.

And that was just the beginning…

Dominance 

The following year, Vettel won 11 races in total, including six of the first eight. He finished second in the other two and romped to the title by a whopping 122 points. 

In 2012, Fernando Alonso fought him all the way to the end. But while the Spanish icon was driving a dog of a car, Vettel was in a rocket ship. He won four races on the bounce toward the end of the campaign, before fighting through the field in the title decider in Brazil, becoming a triple-world champion by just three points. 

Vettel’s fourth and final title is the one that was the most impressive. He dominated the rest of the field, winning 13 races, a record that has since been broken by Max Verstappen this season. He also won nine races in a row during the second half of the campaign, a record that Super Max is yet to break. 

It’s a shame that Vettel couldn’t add further championships during his five-year stint with Ferrari. But as poor Charles Leclerc has found out this season, winning with the Scuderia is easier said than done. 

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