Sebastian Vettel: Is he Germany’s next Michael Schumacher?

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How many times in the future will we see Vettel on the top step of the podium?

Here’s what I wrote about Sebastian Vettel after he scored his first point at Indianapolis last year:

He was only going to get more attention than Hamilton on his debut if he’d stuck his BMW on pole, won the race, set fastest lap and snogged Bernie Ecclestone afterwards. But what he did do was damn impressive – and his form up to this point suggests we’ve another special talent on our hands.

Back then there was a lot of scepticism about how good he would turn out to be. But his mature and composed drive to victory in tricky circumstances will surely have answered most of the doubters. So, how good do we think he is now?

Hearing the German and then Italian national anthems playing one after the other at Monza yesterday it was hard not to think back to that famous race two years ago, when Michael Schumacher won and then announced he would retire from F1 at the end of the year.

The coincidence is perhaps at the root of many of the suggestions that Sebastian Vettel is the new Michael Schumacher. It’s far too early to say for sure that Vettel is that good a driver – but he could be the fresh young talent German fans have been waiting for.

No disrespect to Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock or Adrian Sutil, but none of those drivers has anything like the kind of following Schumacher had. Even with five home drivers in the sport – a quarter of the grid – the German Grand Prix didn’t sell out this year.

By becoming the first German since Schumacher to win a race, Vettel can be the driver to change that.

The season didn’t start very well for Vettel as he was involved in a number of incidents though most, in fairness, were not of his doing. When we last had a look at Vettel’s career there was still some doubt over how good he was.

His win yesterday – as well as going some way towards justifying the hype – sets up a fascinating scenario when Vettel moves to Red Bull next year. His future team mate Mark Webber has been one of F1’s ‘nearly men’ for several years.

Now the much younger Vettel will joining him as a team mate with a victory already to his name. Of course, Webber might already be a Grand prix winner had it not been for a certain incident involving Vettel at Fuji last year.

There are still elements of Vettel’s ability as an F1 driver we’re yet to see. But he can already put an emphatic tick next to the box marked: “win a soaking wet race”.

Michael Schumacher won plenty of races like that. Is Vettel his successor in the eyes of Germany?

Read more about Sebastian Vettel: Sebastian Vettel biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Sebastian Vettel: Is he Germany’s next Michael Schumacher?”

  1. He is already being called ‘Baby Schumi’. He is the next best thing, and I would love to see him in a top drive ASAP

  2. Would be interesting to see.

    I dont mean to punch holes in his well deserved victory, but his Pole Position was obtained with a tad bit of luck. had the weather impreved he wouldn’t of been there.
    however he did prove overly composed in his drive to victory, and that i believe was learned after giving a lot of thought to the incident with Webber last year.
    with that Vettel seems to have a good learning curve, and with the proper car might be bagging serious points soon.
    as to whether he’s the next Michael Shunamcher, he’s got the time to do it. but in today’s F1, we see a lot of talents stuck in second and third tier teams with a lot to give but not much to give with. and some drivers that deserve to stay in the second and third are hired because of sponsorship backing.
    after all F1 is a TEAM sport, and Vettel will be an integral part of a winning package in the very near future.
    I just hope that Red Bull reconsider their engine supplier for next year if they want to make the best out of who they have.
    Because to be Honest,Vettel would be a nice face for the modern F1, and a fitting Rival for Hamilton.

  3. I certainly was impressed yesterday, although I certainly don’t want to see another Michael Schumacher. Hopefully he will be a superb talent and won’t feel the need to ram other drivers off the track and force his team mates to pull over and let him go past for the win. I am pretty confident he won’t do that. I am loving the post MS era.

  4. You can argue that the Torro Rosso was the car to have on race day, given Bourdais’ starting slot and lap times – but for the youngster to punt the ex-Minardi-now-STR onto pole and win outright at Monza is truly amazing.

    Only time will tell if it’s a one hit wonder, we can only hope that Red Bull do improve drastically next season so we can see the true potential. His season so far has been good but I doubt anyone would’ve thought it wouldve built up to this.

    Everyone loves an underdog, right? But given the sight of drivers lining up to congratulate him on the victory lap and afterwards was one of the best sights this season – you can tell he’s a well liked chap.

    I wonder if Schumacher is already talking to Ferrari to ensure Vettel’s services for 2011. I’m sure every team out there will be trying to see if they can fit him in somewhere.

  5. ferrari might have extended kimi contract but if vettel does well over the next two years ferrari will be definitly paying anything to get him….

  6. Vettel has been heavily praised by Michael on a lot of occasions. A ferrari seat is definitely coming for him.

  7. Ron, speed trap classification state his car was 12kph faster than anything else on track, because of the DRY set up.

  8. I think he’s the next Piquet.

    No, better still, the next Prost.

    Or rather the next Senna.

    Maybe he’s just the first Vettel…

  9. I’d like to see Kimi and Vettel in Ferrari. I hope the Red Bull next year isn’t terrible with the Renault engine.

  10. Vettel said something like this:

    “The dry setup and begining of the race behind safety were the key to my victory”

  11. It’s nice to see a weak team shinning in his own country’s race.

    ToroRosso will probably will not be on podium too much times, but I’m pretty sure we will see Sebastian quite often on podium positions in the coming years.

    One thing surprise me is why there are some F1 fans making comparisons of those new drivers with the old ones, Let Lewis be just lewis or Sebastian just Sebastian as Lustigson said. If they become legend, then all of us will put their name in the hall of fame.

  12. Well whatever he does, I certainly hope he can emulate Schumacher’s success, though with the current climate in F1 being markedly different from when Schumi was driving I’m not sure he’ll win 7 championships.

    But the kid’s got talent and he seems like a really genuine guy to boot. I’ve been convinced of his talent since late last year, to be more specific: Suzuka!

    I would also love to see him in a Ferrari at some stage. Whether he be partnered with Raikkonen, Kubica or Alonso, I think he would be great fun to have in a team and certainly would pull his weight.

    I just hope that Red Bull supply both he and Webber with a decent car next year as I don’t want to see either of them potentially struggling down in 8th-12th positions regularly as I believe it would be a waste of both talents!! I want to see Vettel in a WDC/WCC winning car by 2010!!

  13. I am waiting for an article on Hamiltons ridiculous driving yesterday…..certain drivers have complained..

  14. KB – it’s already on the notepad, along with a dozen other things…

    You can always put article suggestions in the Skribit box by the way (upper right of the page).

  15. @KB.

    What do you mean ‘ridiculous driving’? Do you mean driving from 15th to 2nd,as in ridiculously good, or banging wheels with Webber, meaning ridiculously overly aggressive (in your opinion)?

  16. As Loki points out, STR was one of the best cars to have on the day, so I’d question the degree to which Vettal drove beyond his car’s capabilities, as opposed to ‘just’ doing a really strong job in a strong car.

    He certainly took full advantage of his opportunity, didn’t throw it into the scenery, but he wasn’t exactly pushed by anyone during the race – Kovy was well behind from the start.

    With the right timing/luck Piquet gained the lead, and kept a number of better cars behind to be second to only to Hamilton yet (rightly) we’d not compare him to Schumi.

    A fantastic drive from Vettel, yes, but ‘Schumacher’ levels?!? I’m not convinced. It’s too early to tell if he’ll be one of the greatest of all time or if he simply put in a great race in tricky conditions. Let’s assess a few races into patnering Webber…(who I’m sure was described in similar terms a couple of years back)…

  17. @ Paul Sainsbury, re: KB:

    1) I think he is referring to (at a minimum) the incidents with Alonso/Webber/Glock (just the ones that come to mind at the moment) –
    2) unpopularity with other drivers from immodest talk is one thing, but when it also results from “driving style”…
    3) uh, Monza is not really the first race where it’s been an issue…

  18. @Martin, re: KB.

    Aha. Yeah, I have studied several ‘borderline’ moves by Hamilton, but I think ‘borderline’ is exactly what they are. It seems to me he is willing to go the the limit of the rules, but I don’t think he has overstepped them. Webber, for example, had no complaints after the race, as during the moment they touched, Lewis had simply been taking the racing line for the corner. It is particulary apparent on the replay, as the line is very obvious due to it drying out.

    Anyway, it looks like there may be a thread on this subject so I look forward to us all discussing it further soon.

  19. Vettel as the next Schumacher? Well to some Germans I know, they will tell you that there is only one Schumacher (Ralf never counted with them) so there is no & will never be “next” Schumacher … Personally, Michael got me interested in F1, I am not sure yet if Vettel has the same drawing power.

    Me, I too think that it is too early to tell, Vettel has fantastic potential, seems a great guy and had a great race but like Mark Webber, it is also so much about the team he is signed to. Mark has been seriously let down by numerous car failures over the years. I think he must be the unluckiest F1 driver with his mechanical DNFs

    I also think it is hard to compare drivers from different eras, they were driving with different rules, different tracks, different tyres, different technology. Still someone like Coulthard or Barricello occasionally surprise me with a nice performance or two

  20. i wish everyone will let vettel just be vettel and stop comparing him to schumacher, im sure he will want to be preffered to as vettel than baby schumi etc…

  21. Nick Clews and Lustigthingie!
    I think it boils down to the commetators of each TV Station making those kind of “the next Lauda” type of remarks in their rather rubbish opinions…. it will spill over onto a web convo, let alone a pub convo with Sun reading cretins.

    Hamilton’s move last year of keeping his car in gear at Nurburgring so his pet pokecrane would grab him first was “a Schuemaker style move” according to James Allen…. no it wasn’t you nitwit!, Mike wouldn’t have crashed in the wet in the first place!.

  22. “Hearing the German and then Italian national anthems playing one after the other…
    the coincidence is perhaps at the root of many of the suggestions that Sebastian Vettel is the new Michael Schumacher.”

    I think that’s pretty much the only thing they have in common (their nationality)! You don’t get in front of Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kubica, etc in an STR by sheer talent. He was extremely lucky to be on pole and like others said, he had no pressure on him and a train of slow cars between him and the guys who really could have pushed him (Lewis, Kimi).

    I can’t give really give him credit for a ‘calm, composed drive’ either because those who don’t win races do that too and I don’t think it differentiates winners from losers.

    All in all, yeah, nice entertaining race and a surprise result but an amazing show of talent? That’s stretching it.

    I liked what Mario Theissen said when he was asked if Vettel was a star, “Well he’s only 21 so let’s not put so much pressure on him.”

  23. @ Sush

    ‘Hamilton’s move last year of keeping his car in gear at Nurburgring so his pet pokecrane would grab him first was “a Schuemaker style move” according to James Allen…. no it wasn’t you nitwit!, Mike wouldn’t have crashed in the wet in the first place!’

    All the cars were aquaplaning off at that corner at that time, on a river of water. Schu would have been in there with the rest of them, I am afraid.

  24. Shashi – Raikkonen was struggling to push anyone more than Fisi for much of the race, such is how poor the Ferrari is in the wet/damp/cold, or how average some, myself included, think he is when his car’s not to his liking.

    The STR was much higher up the ranking of best cars due to conditions, possibly second only to McLaren, and the first one of those was driven by Kovalainen having another average half asleep day (as quite a number of the ‘leading’ drivers are having this year) and in the second McLaren Lewis did a, shall we say robust, job of getting up the field, but ruining the tyres in the process of doing so, preventing further progress (not forgetting the extra stop).

    I think Vettal did a better job than most of the other drivers who had better or worse cars on Sunday, plus he’s a young inexperienced racer and I maintain he deserves credit for capitalising his opportunity to the full rather than being average or throwing it away, just not the adulation he’s getting from some media. He needs to do much more to earn that. As Brar says, Vettel was honest enough to effectively say as much re circumstances leading to win.

    And as it was in a Red Bull just with a better engine I think it’s actually STR the team that deserve as much credit for getting it working so well with a small team and a small budget.

  25. Love Schumi, love Vettel, I think he is the next michael schumacher in terms of a fantastically quick racer who seems to possess all the skill but I doubt even this young star will ever be as successfull as the greatest of greats, Michael Schumacher, so Baby Schumi, yes, the next schumi, no.

  26. This is what Giorgio Ascanelli has answered regarding Sebastian Vettel similarities with other drivers:

    Can you see similarities between him and the drivers you’ve worked with in the past?

    GA: Why do you want to say that? It is not appropriate. Every man is a human being, he is different and he has his own peculiarities. Let’s not try to compare anybody.


  27. What impressed me the most was the fact that Vettel won FROM POLE POSITION with a back-of-the-grid team, with all the top drivers finishing the race.

    I watch Formula 1 since 1991 and I’ve never seen it happen before…

    Other huge upsets I remember were Barrichello’s pole at the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix with Jordan, that didn’t convert in a win; Olivier Panis’ win at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix with a decaying Ligier, when only four cars took the chequered flag; Hill almost winning with Arrows in 1997, but claiming 2nd in the end; Fisichella’s win the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix with an horrible Jordan, but only after many many accidents and a red flag, but none of these were as big as Vettel’s acheivement.

    He was absolutely brilliant, destroyed Kovalainen and the fact that his car was with a dry set up only makes his victory even bigger, because he had to, in order to capitalise from the extra speed in the straights, control the car in the bends and chicanes, without spinning or losing time.

    I’ve criticized Vettel before, I thought he was overhyped, but, with this result, no matter what happens with him from now on, I can say he proved me wrong and he deserves my inconditional respect.

    Yes, he’s talented enough to be the next Schumacher, but, as many people said, I’d rather see him as the first Vettel…

  28. Yes, he will be the next Michael Schumacher. Being that he will be the next German to win the title. What a talent!!

    PS: I love how an article on Vettel has turned into a debate about Hamilton’s driving. He really is the talking point of the sport!

    It would be interesting to see of the 1,000 or so articles that Keith has written this year, how many DON’T involve a mention of discussion of Lewis.

  29. Vettel said yesteday that “is ridiculous to compare anyone of us with Schumacher”.

    Formula 1 is returning to good driver times. There is Hamilton, and now there is Vettel.
    Kubica is one of the highest level. There are more pilots as Alonso (that make a good race in Monza). You can criticize each one with quite good reasons. But its nice to see the races then 3 years before. An even Massa is in evolution, no ones gives nothing for him, but I remember that there were lots of people that gived nothing for Mansell too.

  30. “To compare me with Michael Schumacher is just a bit ridiculous,” Vettel said. “I know him well and he’s a very nice guy who is very down-to-earth.”

    I like that Vettel has his feet on the ground and has a some degree of modesty. He has let his driving do the talking :) A very nice change from trash talkin’ Lewis.

  31. F1 is a sport of comparisons. ‘Sennaesque’ or ‘the next Schumacher’ are trotted out far too regualarly sadly though. Comparison is without doubt a function of a sport so obsessed with absolute postions, fastest laps, most podiums per start, pole positions. And many more. They tell us some of the picture. You can buy a book, read the tables of results, and make a reasonable judgement based on previous result. But therein lies a problem.

    Gilles was mighty but never won the WDC, though most of us wish he had. Prost won his last WDC in a Williams, but he hadn’t been part of the development of that car, and the car was always going to bring home the WDC. Senna was the most aggressive of racers. I remember Irvine getting punched for daring to rejoin the lead lap when Senna was cruising at the end of Eddie’s first F1 outing in Suzuka. Schumacher’s broken Renault limping across into Hill’s healthy Williams’ path at Adelaide to decide a championship.

    Vettel is not a new Schumacher. He is fast and German. Vettel has threatened to outshine the STR sister team of Red Bull Racing for much of the season. Well now he is joining Mark Webber at the ‘A’ team next year, he has shown his class by leading an F1 race from the front in extremely difficult conditions, whilst having also been the cream of the field in Q2 and Q3. Becoming the youngest ever F1 winner. And that at Monza. In a mid-field car powered by a customer Ferrari engine.

    Vettel was a more than worthy winner. He isn’t Schumacher though. Hope he doesn’t become that either. We already have Lewis in the field offering so much aggression, the FIA & stewards are left rewriting the rules to define sportmanship.

    Lewis is already filling the small gap that Schumacher left his competitors and more. I hope Vettel continues to be fast and extremely likeable. If he must be annointed as a new somebody, hope he is more in the Hill or Mika mould. Early days, but a very fast Vettel is just a perfect result for F1. Just wish he had a better car next year.

  32. I know many of the Tifosi on this post are enamored with the thought of Vettel driving for the Scuderia in a few years, and I’m sure that is a very real possibility. However, as one of the apparently few McLaren backers commenting on this one, I must beg the question many of you must not have considered…..what if Vettel is racing Lewis in a few years not in Ferrari red, but in red, white, and silver……as a teammate of Hamilton at McLaren?

    Now, before you all run me out of the room, let’s stop for a moment and look at a few things. No question Vettel is good- how good remains to be seen, but he’s got skills no doubt. We’ve already got rumours of top teams after him, and that attention is only likley to increase if he continues to develop. I think Heikki is very good and has improved as the season has gone on, but who knows where he’ll be in a few years. It’s no secret that McLaren was looking for a driver of German nationality this off-season to partner Lewis-no doubt to please engine supplier Mercedes- hence the rabid speculation about them signing Rosberg (who still shows me NOTHING to say he deserves a top drive, but thats another topic.)

    If Red Bull don’t keep him locked down, don’t think for a split second that Ron, Martin, Mansour, and jolly ol’ Norbert will let Vettel wind up in solid red without putitng up a good effort to get him in Woking. And don’t forget one other thing- Seb made his F1 debut in a BMW, not the STR he is piloting now- don’t think Dr. Mario and company will forget about him in the years ahead.

    My bottom line is that Vettel could very well end up at Ferrari, but don’t be suprised if he’s winning with another team instead.

  33. No. 28 quote “PS: I love how an article on Vettel has turned into a debate about Hamilton’s driving. He really is the talking point of the sport! Yes , Lewis does attract lot’s of talking , but also remember this is after all a British run site. Nothing wrong , I enjoy blogging here , as it is quick and simple and Keith as we all know has his heart in F1 . Back to Vettel , being termed “the next Schumi” I think is a manner of German fans next hope. You cannot say now he will or will not achieve what Schu. did , maybe even pass it , but one thing for sure he is growing in experience race after race , and this win will surely add to his confidence the next opportunity he is running in a good position. I think what was most significant was that he was able to make a gap to Heikki in a McLaren , and maintain that gap – the look on Heikki’s face on the podium said it all.

  34. Gman, it is more logical for him to go to Ferrari, if he goes to mclaren he will play 2nd fiddle to golden boy.

  35. I agree with Daniel. Been watching since ’89, and I haven’t seen anything like that.

  36. Amy, perhaps that would prove true, but let’s not forget that McLaren is the team that has the long-standing policy of not favoring one driver over another, while Ferrari has for many seasons had a clear number one driver. Perhaps Vettel would be that No. 1, but I think he’d really have an equal shot at winning at McLaren as Hamilton would.

  37. As a protege of Michael Schumacher can Vettel go anywhere else besides Ferrari if they truly want him in the future?
    If MS picks up the phone and urges the young German to come to Maranello could he possibly resist? I don’t think so.

    Alonso will go to BMW and anyone with half a brain and championship talent will avoid McLaren, due to the Lewis factor. But several years down the road (after Freddie fades) he might wind up at BMW as the favored German pilot in the series.

  38. Gman- How Ron continues to sell the “equal driver” proposition to any driver is beyond me, especially after the Alonso-Hamilton nonsense of last year. Maybe Heikki would believe it, but try and sell that concept to a championship contending driver is not believable any more. Equal cars, yes; equal strategy, Lewis will always be number 1, and justifiably so.

    And that’s coming from a long time McLaren fan.

  39. GeorgeK – I don’t think Vettel is Schumacher’s protege, I’m not aware of any involvement by Schumacher in Vettel’s career, other than that Vettel used to drive at Schumacher’s kart track. I know Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber has said he’s interested in managing Vettel.

  40. Funny how after Lewis being pipped to the title in his first year, and leading the championship in his second year, any comparisons of him with Schumacher or Senna are met with outrage, indignation and frothing at the mouth.

    This Vettel guy wins ONE GP and he’s the new Schumacher, and not one iota of outrage ensues. Hmm, this certainly highlights the disgusting double standards of certain F1 forum contributors and some commentators.

  41. He is the next Schumi i already said it when he was a BMW test driver and replaced Kubica he is better than Hamilton i must say:)

  42. S Hughes- Your observation is correct, LH possesses the ego and self promotion (and yes talent) to claim the “Next Schumi” title! Vettel is way too modest.

    I think all of the comparos to Schumi are based on his heritage and potential, nothing more.

    Keith, my calling SV a protege of Schumi’s was my lack of finding a proper term. How about calling him a German driver to be watched? If Schumi called him to come to Ferrari could he resist? Could any driver resist??

  43. terry shipley
    19th January 2009, 10:41

    theres no such thing as the next shuey,its like saying the popes gona be the next god.

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