How many of you believe that Vettel would be a double World Champion if it wasn’t for the circumstances in which he found himself? Say for instance, the FIA had banned certain diffuser loopholes and off throttle exhaust blowing. Assume for one moment that Red Bull did not have the “class of the field” race car for two season, or if Alonso or Hamilton were his team-mate.
One could make the argument that Vettel may not have won two championships, or perhaps any. There is no doubt in my mind of Vettel’s talents or skills. He is a great driver that has proven himself. There are those however, that have suggested that Vettel’s climb to the top was to simple. Perhaps he hasn’t struggled enough and seasoned himself to truly earn his place in history.
I’m not saying I’m one of these people, however, I do see where an argument can be made. Can you think of any other driver that deserved to be champion but never found himself in a winning car at the right time? Or vice-versa?
Sebastian Vettel joined the F1 circus in 2006 as a third driver for BMW Sauber. He was officially named the team’s test driver in the following season. Half way through the season, Vettel was offered the opportunity to jump ship and join Red-Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso. Luckily, Vettel worked for a sweetheart by the name of Peter Sauber who allowed the young German to realize his dream by letting him out of his contract to replace Scott Speed at STR.
2008 was his first full season and we could all see the makings of a great driver coming together. It was in the 2008 season that Vettel became the youngest ever F1 race winner, at Monza. This performance saw him jump to Red Bull for the following season. While 2009 belonged to Brawn and Button, Vettel secured 2nd place in the championship.
The rest is history, winning his first of two titles in 2010 on his efforts, Red Bulls performance and a pit wall strategy error that lost Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso a chance to claim the title. This is where the argument gets interesting. In 2011, Vettel was just about untouchable thanks in large part to the brilliance of Adrian Newey and his Red Bull team.
This season’s title defence is proving to be hard work for Seb. He’s behind his team-mate in points and has shown some cracks in his armour when fits of frustration were witnessed. Recently Ex-Formula One champion and outspoken personality Niki Lauda said when speaking of Vettel, “Last year he had a huge advantage with the car. Now in every race he must fight like a donkey to stay in touch. The stress level is higher. In difficult situations Alonso is superior to all” in Austrian print media Osterreich.
Perhaps this hard work is a good thing for Vettel. It will harden him, help him mature and server as lessons learned. Dominating one moment and being humbled the following season is frustrating and mentally challenging. However, if Vettel works through this and is able remain mentally strong and hungry, he will be an even better driver.
I would wager to say he will be a dangerous threat to anyone if his car has the legs to challenge. This type of toughness can only come from these trials and challenges. Vettel isn’t done winning championships yet. He may still win this season, so keep a watchful eye.
Author: Ernie Black