Sebastian Vettel: The Red Bull era in pictures

2014 F1 season review

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Like Lewis Hamilton at McLaren two years ago, Sebastian Vettel has severed the umbilical cord to the organisation which shaped his junior career, brought him into F1, and made him a champion.

When Vettel got behind the wheel of a Ferrari F2012 at Fiorano at the end of last month it marked an end of an era. He had carried the Red Bull insignia with him since before he began racing single seaters in 2003.

When he joined their Formula One team in 2009 it was the culmination of years of endeavour in Red Bull’s junior team, and the four championship he won ranks as the project’s greatest success.

As Vettel moves on to a new phase of his career as a Ferrari driver in 2015, here’s a look back on his time with Red Bull.

2003-07: Climbing the ranks

Vettel’s second year in single-seaters marked him out as a major talent. He crushed his rivals in Formula BMW, winning 18 out of 20 races on his way to the title in 2004. He also won his first two starts in Formula Renault 3.5, and by 2006 he was driving in F1 practice sessions for BMW.

2007: An early debut

Robert Kubica’s crash in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix handed Vettel an early debut in the following round at Indianapolis. He became F1’s first teenage points-scorer with that one-off drive, then returned with Toro Rosso later in the season and distinguished himself with fourth place in a rain-hit Chinese Grand Prix.

2008: A shock win

Mid-season upgrades to the Adrian-Newey designed Toro Rosso STR3 transformed the car, and in heavy rain at Monza Vettel produced one of the greatest shock wins of recent years. He put the car on pole position and motored to victory, championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa among those left in his wake.

2009: Runner-up

Having given Toro Rosso their first win in 2008, Vettel did the same for Red Bull the following year at another wet race in China. He couldn’t keep Jenson Button from the title, but pushed the Brawn driver hard in the second half of the season.

2010: A surprise champion

Vettel went into the final round of 2010 lagging behind Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in the points, due to a combination of unreliability and accidents. But against expectations both his rivals finished out of the top six in Abu Dhabi, and a stunned Vettel took the win and the title.

2011: Dominating

The following season was more straightforward. Armed with the RB7, Vettel set a new record by setting 15 pole positions, and 11 wins meant he comfortably wrapped up a second championship.

2012: A close call

Vettel and Red Bull began 2012 on the back foot after exhaust-blown diffusers – a key element of the previous successes – were more tightly regulated. He overhauled points leader Alonso in the second half of the year, and clung on in a tense final race in Brazil to retain the championship once more.

2013: Nine in a row

Vettel was edging away from his championship pursuers at mid-season, but a spate of tyre failure at the British Grand Prix led to a change in the rubber for later races. This played into Vettel’s hands, and he took his fourth title while winning an extraordinary nine races in a row at the end of the year.

2014: Parting ways

Mercedes deposed Red Bull as the team to beat following a major overhaul of F1’s engine regulations. But while Red Bull snuck in three wins all of the came from Vettel’s feisty new team mate Daniel Ricciardo. Then late in the year the opportunity to join Ferrari presented itself, and Vettel finally cut his ties to Red Bull.

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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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21 comments on “Sebastian Vettel: The Red Bull era in pictures”

  1. Impressive career so far, I wish him the best for the future :)

  2. Which one in Adrian in the last photo?

    1. The orange one!

  3. that Finger Boy banner was after Malaysian 2012 GP.. haha

  4. What a great selection! So many memories:

    Monza 2008: One could feel that this was just the beginning. It’s a pity that the other two guys on the podium are not in F1 anymore. Also, a German driving for an Italian team won at Monza for the first (and so far the only) time since Schumacher / Ferrari.

    Turkey 2010: Cuckoo

    Abu Dhabi 2010: Fernando is faster than you… but Petrov is faster than Fernando!

    Abu Dhabi 2012: Who said I could not overtake?

    Malaysia 2013: Multi 21, Seb! – Uh-uh.

    India 2013: The King and the Queen.

    USA 2013: “We have to remember these days. There’s no guarantee that they will last forever.”

    2014: Gracious in defeat

    1. “We have to remember these days. There’s no guarantee that they will last forever.”

      How wise and clairvoyant these words turn to be!

  5. Impressive career so far. Obviously he had many great races, but the one that stood out for me was Singapore 2013 were he truly dominated the field. That was one of the best driver-car combo’s ive ever seen.

  6. As someone one has also had the privilege of seeing Vettel at his best trackside, I will repeat the recent doctrine of Martin Brundle, because I know what I saw: I saw a great racing driver. Whether Mark Webber was representative reference point will be a matter of eternal debate, but whilst Vettel lacks the dialect to say this with the effect Toto Wolff could manage, he will be back.

    Whether it is anytime soon and whether it is with the Scuderia is a matter for further debate, but have no doubt that the challenge of stemming the flow of negativity from Ferrari, halting the glances towards sportscar racing and providing the team with a much needed spurt of motivation will be the biggest of Sebastian’s career so far.

  7. I felt a surge of nostalgia for 2010 looking through these pictures. Great championship battle, black and yellow Renaults (please come back!), Schumi/Kubica, good looking cars (in my opinion), Istanbul!

  8. End of an illustrious era in Red Bull Racing’s history.

  9. Great pictures. Loved the BMW F1.07 and RB6. And that Monaco 2011 tilt-shift one – how have I never seen that one before?

    It’s going to be strange in Melbourne to see Red Bull without him. You just automatically associate the two. He’s one of the most likeable characters on the grid and a great driver – you don’t win four titles and clock up his numbers without being super quick. I’m looking forward to seeing him at Ferrari and hopefully the move will pay off eventually.

  10. 2014 wasn’t great but it sure has been a good time being a fan. As I was never a fan of Schumacher, I’ve seen the other side of being a fan as well :)

    Little remark about some of the pictures: that “World Series by Renault, Monaco, 2007” pic is captioned wrong. Monaco has never been part of the World Series by Renault and in 2007 it was the only Formula Renault 3.5 race that wasn’t part of the World Series.

    Lots of people don’t get the difference between the WSbR and FR3.5, but it’s not that hard…

  11. I have to say of all the cars above my favourite has to be this one. Low, wide, clean lines, it’s everything I want a single-seater to look like.

    1. @keithcollantine: FR3.5 cars have been looking great for quite some time now.
      I think the current FR3.5 cars are just about the best looking single-seaters right now. Picture of Vandoorne last year:

  12. It only happens every so often, but sometimes there are moments you witness in sport which you just know you’ll catch a glimpse of much later in the future and think, “Man.. that was just epic.” – and it leaves you with an indescribable feeling of nostalgia.

    The picture of Vettel through all the smoke, standing on top of his car with his hands in the air, celebrating in front of the exuberant grandstand in India gives me goosebumps, not because I’m a big fan of his, purely because it’s so iconic and memorable. A perfect moment befitting of the Sebastian Vettel/Red Bull era.

  13. I always thought his career was a bit ‘fake’. From 2010 to 2014 he had arguably the best car on the grid and had a lesser team mate in mark Webber (no offence mate). As soon as he had somone midly competitive in ricciardo, he was trounced over an entire season. Imagine Daniel had been his team mate for ’10 to ’13…

    1. That wouldn’t be an entirely fair comparison, an integral part of Vettel’s success came from the exhaust-blown diffuser which heavily suited him… which I believe wasn’t there in 2014. Of course, I would have expected him to adapt and it was disappointing to get beaten by his largely unrated teammate but that was more of his teammate being exceptional rather than Vettel being a Chilton.

      1. @sato113 and @woshidavid95
        While Vettel’s mediocre 2014 does not discredit that he drove well in the four previous years, it does give us some context.

        Back in 2013, Vettel was often labelled as being on “a different planet” to anyone else. Now Ricciardo has shown us that is anything but the case, Vettel is very human. There are a few other drivers out there who could have mopped the floor with Vettel in an even more convincing fashion that Daniel did this season. Lewis and Fernando, I’m looking at you.

        There was a similar scenario with Raikkonen in 2005. The MP4/20 was a rocketship, coincidentally designed by the same guy who designed the Red Bull cars from 2009-2013. Kimi was labelled by many, both fans and pundits, as the “fastest man in F1”. Then when he moved to Ferrari, and Massa matched him, we began to question whether he was really ever as good/fast as we thought he was. Vettel went through a similar phase in 2014.

        1. @kingshark
          Really? Because I doubt Vettel ever got the same level of respect Alonso or even Hamilton gets… this season only serves to provide more ammunition for his detractors and I will really be looking forward to seeing him redeem himself in 2015.

          1. @woshidavid95
            Of course, Vettel can redeem himself by driving brilliantly in 2015, trashing Raikkonen, and getting the most out of his Ferrari car (I don’t expect him to win the WDC or such).

            Alonso had a poor season in 2007, then proved any doubters wrong in his Ferrari stint.
            Hamilton had a poor season in 2011, then proved the doubters wrong in 2012-2014.

            Vettel can fix his reputation, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that 2014 will be a forever stain on his career. Similar to how Alonso’s 2007 or Hamilton’s 2011 don’t look any good on their resume.

  14. Wow, 2010 feels like a century ago. Unbelievable how fast time flies by in F1.

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