The F1 world was shocked when Sebastian Vettel took to social media to announce his retirement.
Sebastian Vettel has done it all – from breaking records to driving for some of F1’s most iconic teams. F1 fans, drivers, and commentators alike took to social media, hailing him as the moral compass of the sport.
We’re using this edition of the ‘Greatest F1 Drivers of All Time’ to recap the career of Sebastian Vettel as we prepare to say ‘goodbye’ to the former World Champion.
Journey to Red Bull
While Sebastian Vettel is famous for his time at Red Bull, his F1 career started with another team. He made his first appearance on the F1 grid in 2006 for BMW Sauber for a practice session. He set the fastest time in FP2 and became the then youngest participant in a Grand Prix Weekend at 19 years old.
Vettel took on a test driver role with BMW before replacing Robert Kubica in 2007 after his crash at the Canadian Grand Prix. His first race saw him become the youngest driver to score a point in F1.
He was quickly snapped up as a full-time driver for Toro Rosso, the Red Bull Junior Team. Sebastian’s start with Toro Rosso was rocky as he failed to finish the first four races of the 2008 season.
Everything changed at the Italian Grand Prix when wet racing conditions saw Vettel win the race by 12 seconds to become the youngest race winner at 21 years and 74 days. His impressive win saw his native German media nickname him “Baby Schumi” and the win was the first for either of Red Bull’s F1 teams.
The Youngest F1 World Champion
It was no surprise when Sebastian stepped up to Red Bull in 2009 after Coulthard retired. The German driver went on to win four consecutive World Champion titles from 2010 to 2013. Red Bull and Sebastian appeared like a match made in heaven.
He took Red Bull’s first pole position and win at the Chinese Grand Prix and had an impressive season before finishing second behind Button for the World Championship.
Vettel famously clashed with his Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber, but the pair won Red Bull their first World Constructors’ Championship in 2010. Sebastian came back from a 15-point deficit to Fernando Alonso and a 7-point gap to his teammate to win the Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The footage of Sebastian crossing the finish line – with the “DU BIST WELTMEISTER” radio message - is some of the most iconic in F1 history.
Vettel went on to win the 2011, 2012, and 2013 World Championships before exiting his Red Bull contract a year early in 2014.
Ferrari Title Fights Against Hamilton
Every F1 driver dreams of stepping into a Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel famously said, “everyone’s a Ferrari fan”. After a disappointing season with Red Bull, Sebastian moved to Ferrari for the 2015 season.
Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix, the first win for Ferrari in over 2 years. He paid tribute to his hero, Michael Schumacher, and finished 3rd in the championship with 13 podiums and 3 wins.
2017 and 2018 saw Vettel become Hamilton’s nearest rival. He had a lead in the 2017 season over Hamilton until reliability issues gave Hamilton the edge.
The 2018 season was famously nicknamed the “Fight for Five’ as both Vettel and Hamilton sought their fifth World Championship. Tensions with Ferrari led to a difficult 2019 and 2020 season with Vettel finishing the 2020 season in 13th place.
Journey’s End at Aston Martin
After leaving Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel replaced Sergio Perez as Racing Point became Aston Martin. Sebastian secured the team’s first podium with a second-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He went on to win the inaugural Overtake Award and finished 12th in the Drivers’ standing.
He’ll now finish his F1 career with Aston Martin. Sebastian has focused on promoting his various social justice and environmental campaigns, including promoting women in motorsports and protecting wildlife.
Sebastian Vettel’s record as an F1 driver stands for itself. He holds the most consecutive race wins (9 in a row) and the highest number of race wins in a single season (13).
These records continue to remain unbroken. Vettel has taken 122 podiums, 57 pole positions, 53 wins, and 38 fastest lap points.
We’re crossing our fingers that we can see Sebastian on the podium one last time before he retires. The German driver will finish his F1 career with 299 race starts.