Fun Facts and Features from the World of Sport

Vettel – Simply Unstoppable

• Posted in Misc. • By JoeBaker

You know an individual has reached the pinnacle of their discipline when they start to become disliked by certain quarters for winning too much. It is a rare feat in sport but one Sebastian Vettel has accomplished. The German, still only 26 and with many more years of impeccably executed driving to come, has dominated Formula 1 for the last four seasons. Indeed ‘domination’ perhaps does not do justice to his achievements in his perfectly constructed and exceptional Red Bull car.

Last week in India he secured his fourth consecutive world championship to cement his place amongst the sport’s greatest drivers. It puts him in rarefied company with only three other drivers having won so many – Alain Prost (4), Juan Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) – and only Schumacher and Fangio have won four in a row.

And after winning last weekend’s Abu Dhabi race, in which he led every lap, he has now secured seven straight victories, meaning that success in the final two races will see him equal Alberto Ascari's all-time record of nine consecutive F1 grand prix wins which has stood for 60 years. The latest triumph was his 11th of the season, equalling his tally from his second championship-winning season in 2011 and putting him firmly on target to equal another record – Michael Schumacher’s 13 victories in one season. He has only been off the podium three times this season, two of them in fourth place and one retirement.  It has been abiding excellence of a level rarely seen.

Vettel is the youngest quadruple world champion in addition to being the youngest to score championship points, to lead a race, to secure a pole position and to win a race, the latter when he won in Italy in 2008. In the 118 races since his debut in 2007 he has won 37, had 43 pole positions (third in the overall tally behind Schumacher and Senna) and secured 60 podiums. He holds records for the most points scored in a season, most poles and most laps led.

His natural gift for driving combines with a relentless winning mentality and desire for perfection that underscores all true champions. He works tirelessly with his team at the Red Bull factory to create a car tailored to his skills, always does the job in qualifying, expertly controls races from the front, makes few mistakes and can race superbly to pass others when required. Winning is his addiction and he thrives under the thrill of leading from the front.

One cannot underestimate the work done by his Red Bull team that operates at a level beyond all the others. Their brilliant chief designer, Adrian Newey, has created a car ideal for Vettel and is able to constantly improve and modify it. Unlike his rivals, Vettel is at one with his machine and is never fighting it. This is down to the expertise of Newey, who has won 10 drivers' and constructors' titles with three different teams, a unique achievement for an F1 designer.

Some argue that you could put any world-class driver in a Red Bull and get the same success. Others claim that F1 has become predictable. Yet the sport is only predictable in that every race weekend this ultimate champion drives immaculately and outshines his opponents. No matter where he starts on the track, he can pull off victories and results. Yes, to do this you need a good car, but you also need have to have a good driver in it as well and Vetell is a master of the cockpit. The likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen know that the task will get no easier next season.

We need to embrace Vettel’s brilliance, appreciate his unyielding winning mentality and enjoy a level of driving consistency not seen since Schumacher’s own ruthless supremacy of the field. Certainly Vettel’s retired fellow German will be the first to admit that his incredible records of 7 world championships and 91 race wins will soon be under threat.

Vettel is an all-time great driver but just how great remains an open question. He is still young, in the best team in F1 and shows no signs of losing his appetite for championships and the ecstasy of standing on top of the podium. For him, the sky really is the limit. Newey contends that Vettel has improved to the point that he has no weaknesses and it is difficult to argue against him. The well of Vettel superlatives has run dry. All that can be left to declare is that he has been simply, and irrefutably, unstoppable. 

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