Sebastian Vettel’s final dance

A dreamy eyed, teenaged German with flowing blonde hair walked into the large Indianapolis Motor Speedway paddock for his first ever Grand Prix in June 2007. Sebastian Vettel was rushed in from Method Renault 3.5 Collection to Method 1 to fill in for Polish driver Robert Kubica, who suffered a foul crash in Canada the earlier week and was declared unfit for the US GP.

The then 19-year-old made a sensational debut for BMW Sauber to complete eighth, changing into the then youngest driver to attain factors within the pinnacle of motorsport.

Thus started the journey of some of the storied careers in F1 which is able to culminate greater than 15 years later on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. In these years, Vettel has grow to be some of the profitable drivers within the sport, garnering 4 world championships, 53 wins, 57 pole positions and 122 podium finishes–benchmarks normally used to debate greats of the game.

It isn’t simply the numbers. Whereas Vettel got here to be identified for his relentless and ruthless on-track attitude–remember multi-21 in Malaysia 2013–that introduced him 4 consecutive world titles with Pink Bull from 2010 to 2013, the 35-year-old, particularly within the later levels of his profession, has grow to be an activist, highlighting environmental and social issues utilizing the FI platform.

By the way in which, Vettel received all three Indian Grand Prix races (2011-2013).

The start

After impressing the sector on debut, Vettel needed to wait solely three races earlier than Italian outfit Toro Rosso provided him a full-time drive mid-season, dropping American Scott Velocity. In only a few races, Vettel delivered a superlative efficiency with a fourth-place end in altering circumstances on the Chinese language GP in an underpowered automotive.

Subsequent 12 months, the German got here up with what will likely be remembered as some of the spectacular wins in F1 historical past when he gave Toro Rosso their first victory on residence turf. Whereas the tifosi had been hoping for a Ferrari victory, they nonetheless obtained to listen to the Italian nationwide anthem with Vettel’s triumph, changing into the then youngest winner of an F1 race at 21.

Noticing Vettel’s ‘extraordinary potential’, proprietor Dietrich Mateschitz promoted him to the senior Pink Bull crew with the German instantly zooming to the crew’s first pole place after which victory on the 2009 Chinese language Grand Prix.

Vettel completed 2009 second within the championship however the subsequent 4 years turned his glory period when he received 4 successive world titles, additionally changing into the youngest ever world champion.

After incomes fame, cash and on-track glory, Vettel signed for the game’s most well-known title–Ferrari–to copy what his idol and compatriot Michael Schumacher achieved with the Italian outfit.

Vettel’s time with the Prancing Horse commenced in sensible vogue, profitable solely his second race in purple overalls, elevating promise going ahead. He even challenged for the title in 2017 and 2018 however Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes had been higher as a package deal with Vettel having to accept the runners-up spot each years.

The 12 months 2019 noticed a change in Maranello. Ferrari determined to signal quick and promising Charles Leclerc, who quickly displaced Vettel because the crew’s No 1 driver. It was the response the Monegasque obtained after incomes Ferrari their first victory on residence soil in Monza in 9 years.

The tide had turned and Ferrari determined to not renew Vettel’s contract past 2020 which is when Aston Martin stepped in to signal him. However the British marque had been far off the entrance of the grid.

Regardless of delivering some exceptional performances–his podium on the 2021 Azerbaijan GP–Vettel determined to step away from the game after two years with Aston Martin at 35, comparatively younger contemplating you’ve had world champions racing into their 40s currently.

Aside from sheer pace, Vettel’s tactical acumen, choice making within the automotive regardless of restricted information and the flexibility to construct a crew round him set him aside from his contemporaries. A transparent instance is that this season. After 21 races, Vettel has 36 factors, 22 greater than teammate Lance Stroll.

An intensely non-public particular person, who refrained from social media till just lately when he determined to announce his retirement on Instagram, ‘Seb’–as he’s affectionately known as within the paddock–has grow to be very social, giving interviews, and acknowledging followers and admirers as he calls time on his profession.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on Thursday mentioned he thinks his shut buddy will make a return to the grid. Many greats up to now have. Niki Lauda, Schumacher, Fernando Alonso to call a couple of have come out of retirement to race once more, and a few efficiently too. However one feels Vettel may not. Having all the time raced in championship difficult groups, maybe merely driving for enjoyable, for its adrenaline, is probably not thrilling sufficient for the Heppenheim-born.

Automotive No 5 delivered a scintillating efficiency within the remaining qualifying session of his profession, making Q3 to make sure a ninth place begin for the 299th and remaining race of his profession. With each championships determined, it doesn’t matter who finishes on the highest step of the rostrum. As two-time world champion and as soon as rival Fernando Alonso prompt, everybody, together with the drivers, will likely be watching out for Vettel’s final dance.

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