Sebastian Vettel’s Route to F1

Route to F1

Posted on

| Written by

Sebastian Vettel has demolished many Formula One records, and last year became the first driver to win his first four world championships consecutively.

He also added an overdue win to his CV at his home grand prix. Appropriately it came at the Nurburgring, just an hour’s drive away from where he took his first steps as a racing driver.

Vettel was used to hanging around motorsport royalty from a young age: his local karting circuit in the late 1990’s was at Kerpen, where Michael Schumacher honed his skills.

Although Vettel first set foot on a kart track aged just three-and-a-half, he didn’t begin competing officially until he was eight. Gerhard Noack, a prevalent figure in the German karting scene at the time, remembered him as a naturally quick driver with a voracious appetite for information on how to go quicker.

“He was also a very friendly kid who always said thank you,” he said. “He was one of those people on the team who got there first and was the last to leave the circuit.”

It was the first inkling of the approach to his racing that marked Vettel out from many of his competitors – just as in 2011, when F1 switched to Pirelli tyres, he was the only driver who made a point of visiting their factory to learn as much as he could about the new rubber.

Back in 1998, it was this quality that convinced Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko to sing up the young karter to the energy drinks giant’s young driver development program. Here he is karting at Kerpen in 2000 aged 11 – appropriately driving kart number one at one point – winning against some older and taller competitors:

The 2001 season saw Vettel storm to the European Junior title, winning all four races and also collecting the Junior Monaco Kart Cup and Friday Final event at Paris-Bercy in front of a large crowd.

He moved up a class the following year, taking sixth in the Senior ICA championship. This was his final year in karting, as victory in a one-off selection race for ICA drivers earned him an early promotion to single-seaters and Formula BMW in 2003.

Vettel avoided many of the pitfalls that await young drivers making the tricky transition from karts to full-blooded racing machines. Although he ended his first season win-less, consistent points-scoring and a string of podiums earned him rookie of the year honours and established him as the favourite for the championship in 2004.

He wasn’t the only driver with Red Bull backing that year: Adrian Zaugg and Christopher Wassermann also enjoyed their support. But it was Vettel who stormed to the title with a campaign of unparalleled dominance.

The 17-year-old scored 387 points from a possible total of 400 with 18 victories from 20 starts. His Mucke Motorsport team ended the year undefeated as his team mate Atila Abreu collected the remaining two wins early in the year.

Vettel clinched the title at the 17th race of 20 at Brno in the Czech Republic. Note the 14 smiley face stickers on the left-hand-side of his car’s nose denoting each of his victories up to that point:

Such a staggering achievement could not fail to attract attention further up the motor racing ladder. Frank Williams was kept abreast of Vettel’s achievements via BMW, who were keen to pave a route for Vettel to join them in F1. But Red Bull had plans of their own: in November 2004 they purchased the Jaguar F1 team.

Vettel moved up to the Formula Three Euroseries in 2005 where he continued to impress, ending the season as top rookie. The title was won by sophomore F3 driver and fellow future world champion Lewis Hamilton.

After a slow start to the season Vettel came on strong in the second half of the year. Here he is doing battle with Hamilton, already champion by this point, at a very wet Lausitzring:

With Vettel staying in F3 for a second season, observers anticipated a repeat of his dominant 2004 Formula BMW campaign. As it turned out, he ended the season second overall to team mate Paul di Resta.

The title was decided at the penultimate round in Hockenheim. Di Resta qualified on pole position in a field rich with future F1 talent – Kamui Kobayashi and Giedo van der Garde on row two, Sebastien Buemi behind them and Vettel seventh alongside Romain Grosjean.

When Di Resta jumped the start, Vettel had the chance take the title fight down to the final race if he won. But he was only able to finish third, and the title went to his team mate:

By this time Vettel had already spread his wings far beyond F3. Halfway through the year Red Bull placed him in Formula Renault 3.5 at Carlin. He finished third on the road on his debut at Misano, then inherited the win when Pastor Maldonado was disqualified for a technical infringement and Ben Hanley was given a time penalty for an illegal defensive move.

“It was bloody important important to pass [Andy] Soucek on the first lap!” said Vettel after learning he had been promoted to victory. Proving he could win without such fortune, Vettel doubled up the following day with victory from pole position, in the first race he ever started which included a pit stop.

“It’s just overwhelming,” he said afterwards. “The whole weekend we were working so hard and obviously on Thursday was the first time for me in the car.”

“We had no expectation. It was like, OK if we run in the top ten with all this new stuff for me – new car, new shifting procedure, also in the second race they have a pit stop – if we would have been in the top ten that would have been great. And now we have finally two victories, it’s just amazing.”

But he came down from that high at the next round at Spa-Francorchamps. Vettel crashed at Raidillon in wet conditions, almost severing a finger in the impact:

That ruled him out of the second race but, defying doctor’s orders, Vettel was back at the wheel the following weekend in the Masters of F3 race at Zandvoort.

Now BMW made their move. Having lost patience with Jacques Villeneuve and promoted Robert Kubica to their race team, a new test driver was required. Vettel got the call and again impressed on his maiden appearance, heading the Friday practice times at Istanbul. He remained BMW’s test driver for the rest of the season.

The 2007 season began with Vettel knocking on the door of F1, but for now he was still a Formula Renault 3.5 driver. His first weekend of the year at Monza did not go according to plan when he was hit by Carlin team mate Mikhail Aleshin:

His campaign came to an end after seven races, at which point he was leading the points standings, when he got the break he had been waiting for. Kubica had crashed heavily in the Canadian Grand Prix, and with the next race at Indianapolis just one week later Vettel was called up to replace him.

He began the weekend with the second fastest time in final practice before racing to eighth place and becoming the sport’s youngest ever points scorer.

Kubica return meant Vettel was back in his supporting role at the next round. But Red Bull didn’t wait long to make their move. Scott Speed had struggled at thier junior team Toro Rosso throughout 2006, and Gerhard Berger was anxious to replace the American with Vettel.

Speed was ejected after the European Grand Prix and Vettel made his second F1 start, now with Toro Rosso, in Hungary. A collision with future team mate Mark Webber in a rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix earned him instant notoriety, but a mature drive to fourth in tricky conditions one week later in China underlined his potential.

Vettel’s arrival in the top flight was timely. After claiming his first win in 2008 he was promoted to Red Bull’s top team in place of the retiring David Coulthard. That coincided with the first of Adrian Newey’s front-running designs for the team, and together with Vettel they became the powerhouse outfit of the next four seasons.

Route to F1

Browse all Route to F1 articles

Images © BMW ag, DTM

69 comments on “Sebastian Vettel’s Route to F1”

  1. Well, this definately proves it wasn’t due to Newey’s car only!
    What do you think?

    1. Actually his junior career was quite average, this is when comparing to some of the people that beat him. I think it only shows how much he’s grown and how great he has become as an F1 driver. All things considered we’ve seen many drivers struggle through generations of cars and Vettel is certainly in a tight spot this year.

      1. Average compared to who? He had a much better junior career than Alonso, for instance.

      2. I think the perception of his junior career would be different if he had not made the switch to F1 in mid season while he was cantering to an effortless title in F3.5. If someone just looks at where he finished rather than the circumstances of why he finished there, his junior career looks average. It just shows that sometimes you have to dig below the surface of the numbers.

    2. Seb is great talent. Newey design is a worthy add-on.

    3. @mba

      I think that for a minute I felt like I’d once again accidentally stepped into the Red Bull marketing department website, before realising once again that it was F1F.

      Nice bit of attempted damage control Mr Collantine, at the precise moment Ricciardo is showing up just how average Vettel has always been.

      1. @md I don’t get your comment at all. This is an article about Vettel’s path to F1 and early F1 career, which seems to be factually accurate. Ricciardo has just arrived at Red Bull this year and has performed well so far this season but I don’t understand what that has to do with the topic of this article?

  2. Vettel crashed at Raidillon in wet conditions, almost severing a finger in the impact

    No need to guess, which finger it was, lol.

    1. Haha he’s so glad he managed to keep it he’s been showing it off ever since

    2. I thought that taking your hands off the stererinng wheel when you’re about to crash was one of the most instinctive reactions in a racing driver… I guess not.

      1. It’s the opposite of instinct, which is why it has to be taught

      2. IIRC it happened when debris from other cars crashing entered his cockpit.

    3. I have wondered if the finger is partially a statement of defiance: my finger survived this crash, and now I am brandishing it as I tear the record books!

  3. Man that v8 sounded so good i almost wept. I was so good I thought it was a v10 at first, shows how far we have fallen! Nice article but you missed him testing the v10 williams, and how he said it was a mans car, and he was just a boy, classic!

    1. there are some that ‘claim’ to like this years sound better hahaha. f1 used to be so mighty.

      1. I do. And still maintain that view.

        1. Make that +2

        2. And another one here.

          1. and again

      2. In my opinion, the sound this season is really good having heard it live at Silverstone (I prefer it to the V8 wail), the only problem being that they are too quiet, but fundamentally the more noise, the less efficient the engine is, so if the FIA want really efficient engines, then they will have to be more quiet.

    2. Are you sure you have actually heard them for real? that are laugh-out-loud pathetic.

      1. I’ve heard this years cars in person twice at Barcelona & this Tuesday at Silverstone during the test & do not agree that they sound pathetic.

        I seriously prefer the way these sound when compared to the V8’s, The V8s were just a flat, very loud noise which you could never really enjoy because of how loud they were requiring you to wear ear protection.
        These new V6s are quieter but the actual sound is better & since you don’t need ear protection you can actually enjoy that sound.

        If you enjoyed the sound of the V8s so much then just ask someone to sit next to you & scream into your ear, Its pretty much how the V8s sounded & I always hated them.

        1. I really think if you seriously considered the F1 V8 engine to have been like someone ‘screaming in your ear’, then surely, this can’t be your kind of sport?

          1. I’ve ban a fan of this sport since the early 70s.

            Maybe the comparison to screaming was a bit over-exaggerated, But the overall point I think remains. The V8s were so loud that they were painful to listen to without ear protection & having to wear ear protection means you were not able to fully hear & therefore fully enjoy the sound.
            Besides that the sound the V8s made was actually pretty flat & all the different engines sounded the same as high revs.

            Going back a generation further, The V10s were not quite as loud & I could actually just about stand them without wearing ear protection (Although the high pitched Honda was marginal) so could actually properly take in & enjoy the sound.
            Plus those engines actually had a nice tone to them & each had its own distinct sound.

            Going back to the 80s when we had turbos the last time, I always loved the sound of those beasts, A lot quieter than the V8/10/12s which came before/after but they produced a very nice sound & the turbo whistling & backfiring & all the other sounds that came with them was awesome to hear from trackside.

            Going back to the 70s, I was never really that keen on the Cosworth DFV’s due to a similar complaint I had with the 2006-2013 V8s they sounded a bit flat at the top end & since 90% of the field was running them there was a similar lack of variety in the sounds.

            As I said above one of the things I love about these new V6s is that been quieter you can actually listen to & enjoy the sound they produce & I really like that sound & again like back in the 80s I think some of those extra little whines & whistles the turbo & now ERS systems make sound pretty cool.

            Im not saying necessarily that im against them been made a bit louder, I just don’t think things are anywhere near been as bad in the engine noise department as some like to make out with comments about how they sound like ‘lawnmower’, ‘vacuum cleaners’ & ‘Pathetic’.

            I took my 9 year old daughter to the test on Tuesday (Don’t tell her school who think she had a bad tummy) & she loved not having to wear ear protection for once. I took her to races with the V8s & she hated having to wear the ear protection but couldn’t stand not wearing any because the loudness of the V8s hurt her ears & left her with ringing in her ears for a day or 2 afterwards.

        2. Exactly, the noise is great, infinitely more interesting than the V8 noise. But I do think they need to be louder, maybe another 5 decibels or so, not a drastic increase, but just on the verge of needing ear protection. However, the main issue is the TV coverage sound, they really need to improve it, when my phone records audio more reflective of the real sound than the FOM expensive kit there’s a serious problem.

          1. I think the problem with how they sound on TV is more down to the broadcasters than FOM as i’ve heard how the audio sounds on raw satellite feeds coming directly from FOM & it sounds fine.

            By the time the broadcasters play around with the audio levels & in some cases downgrade the 5.1 audio to stereo a lot of the volume seems to be getting lost. This issue seems to be especially bad on the BBC who seem to drop the track volume a lot.
            Its also especially apparent with the in-car shots, The raw feeds sound fine but on the TV broadcasts they sound significantly quieter.

            FOM have always spent a lot of time (And money) working on the audio & the equipment they get from the trackside microphones to the audio mixing equipment in the truck is some of the best available. We spent crazy amounts of time in 97-98 working on getting the stereo separation perfect & I gather they did the same with the 5.1 setup which was introduced a few years ago.

            Having said all of that, There’s likely been some things learnt on FOM’s side on each track & things will almost certainly be moved around next year which will change/improve the way they capture the sound. Remember that all the TV equipment is setup on Thursday & with the new engines any changes to the audio setup at trackside is guesswork & with cables & the way the 5.1 setup works (You have to get placement perfect to get the proper mix & separation) changing things during the weekend isn’t so simple.
            They will learn things through this year & come back next year going to each track with data from this year & a better idea of if the mic’s can be better placed than what they have done until now.

            I’ll try & put together some stuff from the raw satellite feeds over the weekend to give everyone a better idea of how it sounds directly from FOM.

          2. @gt-racer, thanks for that great explanation, you should advise Bernie on how to increase interest in F1 and avoid permanent damage from a temporary problem. I just wonder who actually benefits from 5.1 sound, I have a Bose 5.1 system and none of the 5 F1 broadcasters in the USA and Australia that I have watched have given me a surround experience watching a race even though several broadcasters have commercials with surprisingly good (but pointless) surround sound, I would think that surround sound from a hairpin bend with a car disappearing from right to rear whilst another car arrives from left-rear to left, then center, then right, to right-rear would be a fabulous enhancement to F1 viewing

          3. I just wonder who actually benefits from 5.1 sound

            @hohum Since you have a nice equipment at home here’s a suggestion, get the end of season blurays and turn the volume way up! It’s like being there.

            When you turn the commentary off, it sounds just like you describe it cars at the back, left, right, all of that, you can clealry see a lot of care goes into the sound mixing of an F1 race.

            But like gt-racer said, the broadcasters ruin the picture, in my case Fox Sports LA brings the track sound to near zero levels, also the commenatators have a tendency to shout all the time and to top it all off they downgrade the image to 720p, I hate it.

          4. @gt-racer I noticed that there are an increasing amount of basic errors accruing on BBC channels… even seemingly elementary ones like microphones not working (and magically working again when someone remembers to move the level for that mic back up).. I was wondering if this could have been from cost-cutting, by firing all the experienced staff and recruiting cheaper trainees?

            PS. The loudest thing I remember hearing on the BBC broadcasts are when Ben Edwards suddenly cringes when something happens on track.. not good. But that’s probably the audience they are aiming for now, i.e. casual viewers not necessarily interested in the driving element, but who will like a twist in the story that’s unfolding.

          5. @mantresx, thanks for that tip, since I have been reading this blog I have become aware that a DVD/BD annual highlights is released by FOM but I have never seen them 4sale or had them offered to me online, unlike offers from various magazines etc. that arrive in my inbox frequently. @gt-racer, If the DVD/BD is the only way to hear 5.1 sound, FOM either has to sell them in great quantity or they have to be very expensive to justify the cost of production, knowing Bernie I expect it is the latter.

    3. The thing is, that is a 2006 V8, those engines got very close to 20k RPM and didn’t have to last for five races.
      They do sound very different to the recent (2008-2013) sanitised V8 engines.

      1. Thanks you are correct. I simply defy anyone to watch that video of vettel in the bmw at monza and say they would prefer a v6t. Just watch the video before you comment…

        1. That is all interesting stuff, and thanks GT Racer for posting, but I can’t see how there is any way that they are going to make these cars sound good on TV broadcasts, whatever they do technically, as they sound feeble even trackside. It is not just that they are so quiet, I think the really big problem is that they don’t any longer achieve high rev’s, which results in the very underwhelming nature of the sound.

          The phrase that springs to mind is ‘you can’t polish a turd’!

  4. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    11th July 2014, 14:22

    Vettel is an interesting study. He’s simply not the prolific junior megastar in the mold of a Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Kubica or Frijns, which is surprising baring in mind how quickly he assimilated with F1 and started showing future champion form. The fact that a fast, but not outstandingly fast young man managed to win four consecutive F1 WDCs is perhaps an illustration of two points: a) that because F1 is so different to junior categories you cannot expect junior form to be neatly carried over during promotion, and b) a clever driver always has the potential to thrive in modern F1.

    Regarding the former point, the impressive F1 displays of Perez, Kobayashi (who had a particularly anonymous junior career) and even Rosberg (of whose junior speed was inconsistent at best) and inversely the F1 struggles of junior stars Grosjean, Liuzzi, Vergne and Piquet Jnr prove the inability to neatly correlate junior performances with F1 outcomes. However all junior series, with the possible exception of GP2 in the Pirelli era, do not require drivers to modulate their pace, and therefore the central ingredient to junior single seater success is speed. F1 is different, and the litany of processes, from car development, to race strategy and pace modulation demands a cerebral driver: a driver such as Sebastian Vettel.

    1. @william-brierty He dominated Formula BMW in 2004 and won his first 2 WSR 3.5 races (de jure, anyway)……

      Otherwise, though, I think you’re quite right.

      1. Actually this pies shows he was a star in his junior days. Karting, F3, WSR…

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th July 2014, 15:33

        @davidnotcoulthard – True, but a) that is kind of what we would expect from a four-time F1 champion and b), he hardly had a illustrious list of second year drivers to beat in Formula BMW in 2004.

    2. There are other factors to consider also, like how quickly that driver ascends: Vettel arguably ‘skipped’ steps on his route to F1, which allows less time for acclimatisation in the junior series and therefore likely lower success rates. And the age-old issue of money – Maldonado for example could afford to have his pick with teams, a luxury some other drivers are deprived of.

      Otherwise, your points are excellent as always @william-brierty.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th July 2014, 15:40

        @vettel1 – True, but a) the speed of Vettel’s ascension can be attributed, as in the cases of Kvyat and Algersuari, to the backing of Red Bull (meaning he did not have build budgets himself – and was invariably placed with premier teams), and b) although he arrived on the outer edges of F1 quickly, the journey to get him there simply did not include the rookie championship victories of equally youthful drivers Frijns and Luizzi.

        1. @william-brierty I think that there are plenty of drivers out there who will atest that having the backing of Red Bull is by no means a guarantee of success and reaching F1 and even for those who do no guarantee that you will last there. Arguably when you look at the drivers who have been Red Bull young drivers you might think that it’s actually pretty tough to make it through.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            13th July 2014, 11:59

            @jerseyf1 – I completely agree, the fact that the programme dropped a driver as good as Nicholas Lapierre is an illustration of that, but clearly Vettel had the talent to make it to F1 without backing, and therefore the role of Red Bull mainly served to speed up the inevitable meteoric rise through motorsport.

    3. Hulkenberg is also interesting case. His kart career wasn’t spectacular. His biggest achievement was German championship and Vettel was often in front in international events . Yet once he switched to cars, he started dominating every series he raced in. In F1 he has had mixed results: quite average against DiResta and Barrichello; destroyed Esteban and is clearly ahead in front of Perez.

      1. He did win 3 junior kart championships as well, which if not unique, is certainly unusual. Interestingly, if you watch videos of Vettel and Hulkenberg at that time, Hulkenberg was actually the smaller driver back then.

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th July 2014, 15:45

        Luizzi is the complete inverse, mega in karting, strong, if not dominant in single seaters and plain average in F1. Hulkenberg is clearly a “powerphiliac” whose career gained momentum as more was demanded of his inner gyros to balance the power application with the grip available. In F1 he has shown certain future champion form, and he is but a faster car away from regular visits to the top step.

    4. Liuzzi is still my ‘go to guy’ when talking to people who are overly-praising someone being dominant in a feeder series. I remember 2004, before Ferrari made driver announcements, people were going as far as saying Ferrari wanted Liuzzi to join to replace or be tutored by Schumacher.

      Here we are, 10 years later, and you could argue his dominance might have had something to do with the level of competition, the level of dominance Arden had at the time and Red Bull’s influence (as Klien looked a lot better in F3 than in F1 as well.)

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        12th July 2014, 17:19

        @npf1 – I remember reading an Autosport article in 2004 the week after he wrapped up the F3000 championship entitled “Italy’s Next F1 Champion?” – an article that drew on the Ferrari rumours you speak of. It’s not merely Luizzi’s karting form that was baffling (it’s not uncommon for hugely successful karters, such as Giedo van der Garde and Anthony Davidson, struggle to translate their form into equivalent single seater success), but the fact that he was so impressive in junior single seaters but so lackluster in F1 is plain baffling. Whilst we have seen junior stars struggle to adapt to F1 since, Grosjean for example, none is such an emphatic example as Luizzi, and as you say might point to a Red Bull-induced financial advantage on the part of Arden.

    5. the inability to neatly correlate junior performances with F1 outcomes.

      It’s probably more accurate to say “the inability of outsiders to neatly correlate junior performances with F1 outcomes”. The people working in F1, having access to a lot more data, do a much better job here then we armchair fans can. So when you hear that some driver is highly regarded by those “in the know” that counts for as much as a GP2 title. For instance RB seem to have been proven correct in selecting Kvyat as the man to take the vacant TR seat, though it seemed a bit controversial at the time.

  5. Nice read.
    Spotted some typos:
    -“sing up” instead of ‘sign up’ just before the first video
    -And “thier junior team” instead of ‘their junior team’ at the end when Scott Speed is mentioned

    1. Yay, pedantry! Also Vettel would have been 12/13 in 2000, not 11.

  6. Surprising how quick WC’s like Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen showed their pace early on in their careers while Perez/ Hulkenberg and Grosjean took considerably longer. Kind of surprising how much testing has really helped these drivers. Another reason to keep limited testing on maybe?

  7. Vettel was similar to Alonso in that the results in the lower categories didn’t really show how good they turned out to actually be.

    I remember back in 2000 when Alonso was in F3000 he didn’t really look that spectacular, He won 1 race at Spa but only had 2 other points finishes yet the engineer’s & others who were looking at the data were full of praise for just how quick he was.
    Then when he moved up into F1 the guys at Minardi were insistent that he was something special & that followed on to Renulat when he was testing through 2002 & when he did a test for Jaguar who immediately tried to sign him.

    Was the same with Vettel, From the outside he looked good but not spectacular but the people who had worked with him would insist that he was something very special. When he drove a Williams in 2005 the team were genuinely impressed by how good they felt he was & again when he started doing the Friday running for BMW in late 2006 he surprised everyone who hadn’t been paying much attention to him by just how fast & consistent he was & the engineer’s at BMW were gushing over how unbelievably quick he actually was & how much better they felt he was going to be once he got more F1 experience.

    I think this is always one aspect that fans don’t appreciate because its something they never see. Fans can watch the cars from trackside/On TV & can see the results but you don’t get the full story as the engineer’s & others who can make sense of all the data do.
    They can see how much a driver is getting out of a car, They know specific circumstances which may have held a driver back from getting a better results, They can see how consistently quick a driver is & if he’s making mistakes & how often he’s making them as well as how good the car was on the day or how the team he’s in compares to others on the grid etc….

    1. Spot on mate! A lot of people don’t see those data the teams have and judge drivers from TV. A little bit unfair I think.

  8. “Although he ended his first season win-less, consistent points-scoring and a string of podiums earned him rookie of the year honours and established him as the favourite for the championship in 2004.”
    Don’t understand this one. He won 5 races in his first year in single seaters, taking runer-up spot in the championship in 2003.

  9. I think a story of Vettel’s road to F1 isn’t complete without mentioning the ties between Marko, Berger and Theissen. Marko is obvious but Berger and Theissen played a really big role in giving him the BMW seat and then later on the seat at Torro Rosso. In hindsight it doesn’t look like a big deal, but back then the decision wasn’t as non-controversial as you’d think.

  10. And for all those who like to diminish Vettel’s world championships by trotting out the well worn “faster car” mantra, his crushing dominance of Formula BMW should be an eye opener. If ever there was a level playing field technically, F BMW was it – and that kind of dominance in a spec series only comes about with natural skill…

    1. He’s also a really nice guy, one of the nicest in F1, and can always laugh off a bad result without winging and coming up with excuses which other drivers almost always do. Just wish he was English though…

  11. Vettel is a brilliant pilot!

  12. I guess I’m young-nostalgic or something, but I try to forget I’ve seen Vettel in both Formula BMW and F3 at Zandvoort, being a little over 3 years older than I am. I typically had a good eye for which F3 drivers would make it through to F1 and guess I’ve only been wrong about Lucas di Grassi (overestimated) and Sebastian Vettel. 15 year old armchair expert me thought of Vettel as another Bernoldi, Klien or Liuzzi. How wrong I was..

    Great article, with some familiar names popping up who spent a lot longer on their way to a top series. (Looking at you, Aleshin.)

    1. @npf1 Now I’m curious to see why you didn’t think di Grassi or Vettel were F1 calibre initially? Vettel was very young while climbing the ladder too, setting somewhat the path that everyone else now follows.. this is because Red Bull had a plan to win with him in F1, so he didn’t need to prove himself any longer in karts than was required until he could start racing single seaters..

      1. @fastiesty I’d stress I was 15 and obviously not as well-informed as now (as well as the internet being less developed as far as motorsport results than now), but I just didn’t see anything special in Vettel initially and was somewhat blinded by his status as a Red Bull Driver, which in 2005 didn’t count for much.

        I overestimated Di Grassi and imagined him to come much further in F1 than he did, actually, should have been clearer about that.

  13. Vettel is being beaten by his teammate,so is Kimi and yet the media is pretending this is not happening. No hounding, no inflammatory stories, no consistent bashing and belittling like they did with Hamilton. Interesting. And of course Button’s slowness has absolutely nothing to do with him, it’s the car’s fault.

    1. Wasn’t there enough unnecessary hounding when Vettel was winning?

    2. Button’s slowness? Sorry, I missed that in the article. Could you point it out to me and explain it’s relevance please?

    3. Vettel should come back at Ricciardo as the season wears on and rear grip starts to increase again. The aero should find about 2 seconds this year, same for engines.. leading to 4 seconds quicker by the last race, than the first…

    4. ricciardo has been faster than vettel in qualifying & has had better reliability, but in most of the races its actually been vettel that has had the better race pace.

      in montreal for instance vettel was faster than ricciardo all race & it was only the change of pit strategy which got ricciardo ahead. it was much the same story last time out in silverstone, seb was faster all race & ricciardo only ended up ahead thanks to his strategy.
      even looking back to races like spain, vettel was faster but was having to come from mid-pack & even then was only what 10-15 seconds behind ricciardo by the end.

  14. The battle with Lewis in F3 is a great piece of motor racing. CLASSIC. Even better than USA 2012 :)

  15. Very good to know the full story of Sebastian Vettel before coming to Formula 1. Pretty cool to see him competing with all these future pilots f1, Sebastian Buemi, Guido van der Garde, Lewis Hamilton.

  16. In the first video at the podium ceremony, you can hear the the announcer mentioning Nicolas Hülkenberg :) Unfortunately he can not be seen in the footage!

Comments are closed.