Sebastian VettelAston Martin F1 Team
Four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel enters into his second season with Aston Martin in 2022, off the back of finishing 12th in the previous year's standings.
F1 season 2022
|Date of Birth
|3 July, 1987
|Place of Birth
Biography of F1 driver Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel was identified early in his career as a potential future F1 champion, showcasing his dominance in karting series as he ascended the motorsport ranks.
Vettel subsequently became the youngest Formula 1 World Champion ever, securing four consecutive titles during his tenure with Red Bull.
After this remarkable success, he made the transition to Ferrari, securing 14 victories before embarking on a new chapter with the revitalized Aston Martin team for a two-year stint.
In the midst of the 2022 season, Vettel announced his retirement from Formula 1, concluding an era for one of the most prominent names in F1 over the past decade.
But what are the roots of his career, and how did Vettel pave his way into Formula 1? Explore the comprehensive biography of Sebastian Vettel to uncover the details.
Teams and teammates | Sebastian Vettel
Vettel's early career
Vettel initiated his journey in the world of motorsport at a young age, starting karting at the age of three. From the age of eight, he participated in various series in his home country of Germany and across Europe.
Hailing from Heppenheim and admiring F1 championship-winning compatriot Michael Schumacher, Vettel joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 1998, achieving numerous titles, including the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001.
After collecting trophies across Europe, Vettel transitioned to open-wheel racing in the 2003 season. The young talent made a strong impression and had the opportunity to test the Reynard Motorsport Champ Car in a two-day private test. The following year, he clinched the Formula BMW ADAC championship with 18 victories in 20 races throughout the season.
In 2005, Vettel joined ASL Mucke Motorsport for the Formula 3 Euro Series, where he secured the Rookie Cup and finished fifth in the overall standings.
His impressive performances caught the attention of observers once again, leading to a test with Williams later that year, followed by another session with the BMW Sauber F1 team.
For the 2006 season, BMW Sauber appointed Vettel as their test driver. Concurrently, he continued competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series, finishing as the runner-up, and participated in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
While leading the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, Vettel was unexpectedly called up as BMW Sauber's third driver for the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, making history as the youngest person to compete in a race weekend at the age of 19 years and 53 days.
F1 debut with BMW Sauber
Vettel had demonstrated his talents immediately upon his entry to Formula 1, as he set the fastest time in the second Friday free practice session that weekend in Turkey.
He also set another record, for collecting his first fine just nine seconds into his F1 career, after exceeding the pit lane speed limit as he headed out on track.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Vettel posted the fastest time in both Friday practice sessions, and his pace was recognised by a call-up to be the BMW Sauber test driver for 2007.
After Robert Kubica crashed heavily at the Canadian Grand Prix and sat out the next event in the United States on medical grounds, Vettel was named as his replacement and finished his first F1 race in eighth, becoming the then-youngest person to score a point in the sport.
BMW Sauber released Vettel following Kubica's return, allowing him to join Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso, from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.
The 2008 season got off to a difficult start for Vettel as he retired from all of the first four races, including three on the first lap, but he improved at the Monaco Grand Prix to finish fifth and score his first points of the season after qualifying 17th.
Then it all came together as he made history as the youngest driver to ever win a Formula 1 race aged 21 years and 74 days at a rain-soaked Italian Grand Prix, after securing his team's first-ever pole position earlier that weekend.
The win set the tone for what was to come and, as David Coulthard announced his retirement ahead of the 2009 season, Red Bull confirmed that Vettel would step in as his replacement alongside Mark Webber.
Vettel steps up to Red Bull
When Vettel made the step up to drive with the Red Bull senior team, the timing could not have been any better.
Red Bull entered the sport in 2005 and had been growing steadily over the years, attracting star designer Adrian Newey as they attempted to turn occasional podium finishes into victories and world titles.
Vettel looked strong from the very first race of the 2009 campaign in Australia, where he qualified in second and was in contention for honours when a clash with Kubica forced both drivers to retire.
However, he then went on to repay the faith Red Bull had shown in him by taking the team's maiden pole position and race win at the Chinese Grand Prix, which was followed by further victories in Great Britain, Japan, and Abu Dhabi.
The results put Vettel in the running for the championship against Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team, but ultimately, several mistakes - such as a crash in Monaco and issues with the car - limited his ability to score points, and he eventually finished the year as runner-up.
It was the next season, in 2010, that the true promise of the Red Bull outfit would come to fruition, with Vettel involved in a close title fight against his teammate, Webber, as well as the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Issues with the car once again ruined any hopes of a race win in Bahrain and Australia, with Vettel leading from the front, but he took the victory third time out in Malaysia and triumphed on four more occasions that season. He also managed to put his car on pole position for 10 of the 18 races.
But it was not all smooth sailing, as dramatic collisions with Button (in Belgium) and Webber (in Turkey) cost Vettel plenty of points. Heading into the season finale, he needed a number of things to go his way to be in with any chance of winning the title.
At the last race in Abu Dhabi, both Webber and Alonso ran into issues, and so Vettel duly seized his chance and took his fifth victory of the season to become the youngest ever F1 World Champion.
Vettel and Red Bull dominate
Vettel's title-winning performance cemented him as one of the top drivers on the grid, and Red Bull duly extended his contract for 2011 until the end of 2014.
In 2011, the team once again had the dominant car on the grid, and Vettel exerted a stranglehold over the championship throughout the season, taking pole for 15 of the 19 races, along with 11 victories.
Vettel was well ahead of teammate and sometime-rival Webber, who scored just one win at the final race of the year in Brazil, as Vettel suffered a mechanical issue. But no one could touch the German and that year he became the first driver to win back-to-back championships since Alonso with Renault in 2006.
The following year, Red Bull continued their form, but this time Vettel's title defence would be pushed all the way by a resurgent Alonso.
A shift in regulations over the winter break chipped away at the team's advantage over their rivals, but Vettel continued to fight at the front, finishing second at the season-opening race in Australia and getting his first victory in Bahrain. Throughout the first half of the 2012 campaign, Vettel struggled to get to grips with the changes to the car, being regularly outpaced by Webber and losing ground to Alonso in the championship battle.
However, after the summer break, things finally started to turn for the better, with Vettel winning in Singapore after Hamilton retired, sparking a sequence of four victories on the trot. He lost out to Hamilton in the US, but Brazil would once again provide the backdrop for a dramatic last race as Vettel limped his way to sixth with a damaged car to score just enough points to beat Alonso to his third world title.
The 2013 season would see Vettel return to the dominance he had enjoyed in his early seasons with Red Bull, even though the early stages of the year promised a competitive grid.
Mercedes looked strong and kept Vettel off pole for a large portion of the year, and the German shared early wins with the Ferraris of Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel put his car where he needed it to be, on the podium and scoring points, to stay in contention for the title.
The year included the infamous 'Multi 21' team orders scandal in Malaysia, which caused uproar between Vettel and Webber. Ignoring an instruction from the team, Vettel stole the victory away from his teammate, leading to a frosty atmosphere on the podium.
Despite the challenges, Vettel remained focused and, after the summer break, bagged six wins on the bounce to seal the title race with three races to go, on his way to setting a new record for consecutive Grand Prix victories (nine).
The history-making run would come to an abrupt end in the 2014 season, however. Red Bull lost out as a switch to turbo-hybrid engines for that year's championship resulted in repeated power unit issues with the car. In their place, Mercedes emerged as the new dominant force.
Red Bull's engine supplier, Renault, had not been best-placed for the technical changes compared to their competitors, and the gap between Red Bull and their German rivals became apparent as the season went on. Vettel struggled to get the best out of the car within the team, and new teammate Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the rare occasions where there was an opening to slip ahead.
Vettel slipped down to fifth in the championship that year, and the ongoing frustration with being in an uncompetitive car eventually resulted in him announcing at the Japanese Grand Prix that he would leave the company he signed for 16 years earlier.
It was subsequently announced that Vettel would replace for Alonso at Ferrari, fulfilling a childhood dream by signing for the team of his hero, Schumacher.
Making the switch to Ferrari
Vettel did not join Ferrari on the upswing, as he had with Red Bull.
The team had been even less competitive than their rivals after the switch to turbo-hybrid power trains in 2014, but for the next year they were rejuvenated by the signing of Vettel, and planned to once again challenge Mercedes at the front.
Vettel made good on his signing costs straight away by finishing third at the Australian Grand Prix, and followed this up with a win in Malaysia, his first victory in more than a year and the first for the team in more than two years. Further wins would come in Hungary and Singapore, but the Ferrari was never really close enough to sustain a challenge to Mercedes, and Vettel ultimately finished the year in third.
For 2016, Vettel once again showed early promise, but the year would ultimately prove to be frustrating as he finished without a victory.
Vettel clashed with other drivers on the grid multiple times, including an incident at the Mexican Grand Prix where, having been incorrectly told he could pass Max Verstappen, the driver swore at his Dutch counterpart and Race Director Charlie Whiting when he couldn't pass. He later apologised for his actions.
He did manage to secure seven podium finishes during the season, but the Ferrari again lagged behind the dominant Mercedes, and Vettel's frustration with the team's position was clear. The following year similarly held much hope for Ferrari, with the Scuderia hoping to be contenders and keep pace with Hamilton and Mercedes.
The early signs showed that Ferrari's decision to focus on their 2017 development programme the previous year had paid off, as Vettel led the championship at the midway point of the season following wins in Australia, Bahrain and Monaco.
He had another run-in with long-standing rival Hamilton in Azerbaijan, as Vettel hit the rear of the race leader and subsequently accused him of a brake test.
Moments later, Vettel drew alongside with Hamilton and bumped wheels, for which he was given a 10-second penalty and later apologised. Vettel's lead in the championship was cut to one point after a puncture at Silverstone saw him drop down the order to finish seventh, but he regained top spot with victory at the Hungaroring.
But during the charge to the season finale, a three-way collision in Singapore took both Ferraris out of the race, and a retirement in Japan put an end to hopes of a fifth title, with Hamilton instead taking Mercedes' fourth victory in a row.
The 2018 championship was dubbed the 'fight for five', as both Vettel and Hamilton were in the hunt for their fifth World Championship.
Things were looking good early on for Ferrari, with Vettel scoring two wins in the first two races, but a series of errors throughout the season left Hamilton in pole position, and it was the Briton who would secure title number five.
Vettel's final years at Ferrari
For the 2019 season, Ferrari selected a driver from their junior program, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, to swap places with Kimi Raikkonen from Sauber/Alfa Romeo.
This decision would eventually contribute to Vettel leaving the team he had aspired to join. Nonetheless, as they approached that year, Scuderia Ferrari maintained confidence in another championship pursuit.
Despite their confidence, Mercedes proved challenging to overcome, with Vettel qualifying almost a second behind pole position and securing third place in the first two races.
Vettel secured his first pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix, but a five-second time penalty was imposed during the race for running over the grass and forcing Hamilton off the track. Despite crossing the line first, he ultimately lost the victory.
His home race in Germany saw him unable to qualify due to a car issue, starting from the back. Additionally, a collision with Racing Point's Lance Stroll at Monza resulted in a 10-second penalty, leading to a 13th-place finish.
Vettel triumphed again at his preferred Singapore circuit, securing his fifth victory at the track. However, subsequent drama unfolded as he collided with Leclerc in Brazil after the younger driver made a pass, resulting in both cars retiring from the race.
By the end of the year, Vettel finished fifth in the Drivers' Championship, experiencing being outscored by a teammate for only the second time in his career.
Before the 2020 season, Ferrari announced that Vettel's contract would not be extended beyond that campaign. Unfortunately, the situation worsened as an FIA ruling towards the end of 2019, mandating Ferrari to alter parts of their engine, significantly impacted the car's performance.
Both Ferrari drivers faced challenges throughout the COVID-19-disrupted 2020 season. Vettel, in particular, had his most disappointing year in F1, trailing behind his teammate once again as the team plummeted to sixth in the Constructors' Championship, marking their worst result since 1980.
Aston Martin adventure begins
Midway through the 2020 season, Vettel announced that he had signed a deal with the rebranded Aston Martin team to race for them in 2021.
Vettel replaced Sergio Perez at the team formerly known as Racing Point, competing alongside owner Lawrence Stroll's son, Lance Stroll.
Like many of the drivers who had switched teams for 2021, Vettel initially faced some struggles in adapting to his new car at the beginning of the season. The German finished outside of the points for the first four events of the year, before breaking his duck with an impressive fifth at the Monaco Grand Prix.
At the following race in Azerbaijan, things got even better for Vettel. The former World Champion finished the eventful Grand Prix in second, securing his first podium with Aston Martin.
Another podium came a few weeks later at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but Vettel was later disqualified due to the FIA being unable to take enough of a fuel sample from his car at the end of the race.
A run of poor results came in September, with Vettel failing to score points at several races. His best result of the latter half of the season came at the Mexican Grand Prix with a P7 finish.
Vettel eventually finished the year in 12th in the World Championship, whilst Aston Martin took seventh in the Constructors' standings.
Second season with Aston Martin in 2022
In 2022, Vettel will embark on a second year with Aston Martin, having been confirmed to return to the British outfit alongside Stroll.
Vettel is hopeful that the new regulations being introduced into Formula 1 can offer the team an opportunity to progress.
Away from racing, the German become known for his activism, having given his backing to a range of causes. This has included Vettel litter-picking at the British Grand Prix to encourage care for the environment, wearing a rainbow T-shirt in Hungary to support those affected by the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws, and organising a women-only karting event in Saudi Arabia.
Away from racing, Vettel has ruled out a move to politics in his post-F1 career.
What is Sebastian Vettel doing now?
Aston Martin has not yet managed to be the best of the rest in the 2022 season. Midway through the season, the four-time world champion brought significant news: after the 2022 season, he is putting an end to his Formula 1 career.
In 2023, we will no longer see this beloved driver on the F1 grid, although he would gladly make an exception for a race at Suzuka if there is an available seat. Perhaps we will see him back on the grid someday, similar to Fernando Alonso's return to Formula 1.
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