Formula 1 News

Baby-faced Vettel sets new standards

The German just established the record of the youngest double Formula 1 Champion, braking Fernando Alonso registry on the process.
Sunday, October 9, 2011

SUZUKA, Japan, Oct 9, 2011 (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel's career trajectory has always been sensational and had the youngest ever double world champion hurtling to glory from the first day he walked into Formula One.

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In the wake of youthful Spaniard Fernando Alonso's impact as the young, title-grabbing successor to the 'red baron' Michael Schumacher, Vettel created a whole new set of youthful standards.

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He was the youngest participant in Formula One, at 19 years and 53 days, with Sauber in Turkey in 2006, the sixth youngest race-starter in 2007 in the United States and, in the same race, the youngest man to score points.

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In 2007, in Japan, he was the youngest race-leader and in 2008, in Italy, at a rain-hit Monza, he became the youngest pole-sitter and then youngest race winner.

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That result for Toro Rosso triggered a move to Red Bull for 2009 when he almost landed the drivers' title, but ultimately had to settle for runner-up behind Briton Jenson Button.

It was his first major setback and disappointment -- and he was only 22.

His Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber of Australia did not even enter Formula One, with the underfunded back-marking Minardi team, until he was 25.

So it was no surprise when on Sunday, baby-faced Vettel became the sport's youngest double champion, having already become the youngest first-time champion last year, usurping 2008 winner Briton Lewis Hamilton by nine months.

Born in Heppenheim on July 3, 1987, as a schoolboy Vettel adored "the three Michaels" -- Schumacher, Jackson and Jordan.

Originally, he said, he wanted to be a singer like Jackson, but discovered he did not have the voice and, after starting in karting in 1995, found another road to success.

Vettel, whose father Norbert was a carpenter who raced in hill-climbs, has one brother and two older sisters and comes from a family with English connections who encouraged him to learn the language and enjoy British culture.

He loves The Beatles and can reel off jokes from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "Fawlty Towers" as well as "Little Britain". His wit and easy charm endeared him to the media at an early age.

"I am still listening to the same music as always," he once said. "But, you know, unfortunately, The Beatles have not released much new stuff!"

If life and languages came easy to him, he made the most of it, just as he did in a racing career that saw him rise rapidly through karts and junior formulae, where he was nurtured by the Red Bull juniors training scheme.

He entered F1 with the BMW Sauber team, after running in the BMW juniors, and swiftly made an impact before switching to Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, securing his first full-time seat with them in 2008.

His racing in the rain, always impressive, dazzled that year at Monza when a new F1 star was born.

The rest was, swiftly, to become history as he cut a swathe towards the top, with his cheeky grin and brilliant driving earning him sobriquets like 'the baby-faced assassin" and the 'new Schumi'.

Having raced for the Swiss Sauber team, it was no surprise that Vettel chose to take up residence in Switzerland where he now lives with his long-time girlfriend Hannah Prater, whom he met at school.

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