Last Sunday, German Formula 1 star Sebastian Vettel made history by winning his third F-1 championship and thus becoming the youngest Formula 1 driver to win three championship titles.
Vettel, whose love for racing began at just three years old, has made his way up to the top at a remarkable pace. He began racing in kart tournaments at the age of eight, winning the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001 and the Formula BMW championship in 2004. His call to Formula 1 came shortly after he won the World Series by Renault in 2007 where he became BMW’s test driver. Later that year, he competed in the United States Grand Prix, finishing eighth to become the youngest person to earn a Formula 1 championship point.
However, Vettel faced several major obstacles while climbing his way up the ladder. One of these is the much talked about controversy involving Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. In the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel blamed his collision with Webber on Hamilton who was apparently “behaving erratically” behind the safety car. If once was not enough, the two were involved in another crash incident later in 2010 at the Turkish Grand Prix, which only worsened the relations between the two.
This last race was a rather close shave for Vettel. He and Fernando Alonso were head to head, both fighting for their third championship victory, and even though Alonso finished second and then sixth in the most recent race, Vettel managed to win the title by just three points (278-281). Alonso, though deeply disheartened, remarked, “I didn’t win the title. But I won so much respect from everybody.”
It was a tough race for Vettel, right from the start until the finish. In the press conference after the race, he said, “ “My radio was not working, I was crying and you didn’t hear that, and I am very happy about that. I just can’t find the right words to describe how I feel right now.”
Vettel said he had a few inspirations while growing up, including Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, and of course, Michael Schumacher. He said one of the greatest moments of his life was when Schumacher presented him with the runner-up trophy at one of his junior tournaments. Both drivers hail from small German towns and have a common love for The Beatles. Hamilton also said he could not be happier winning his third title in a race in which his idol was competing. However, this race was the last for Schumacher, who, at age 43, has finally decided to retire.
This has been a challenging year for Vettel, especially having had to deal with problems with the Red Bull team at the year’s start. However, things seem to be finally falling into place for the young champion. For now, celebration and happiness seem to be the only two things on his mind.
“To win that third title here, where one of my greatest idols, Ayrton Senna, was from, it is very difficult to imagine I join him and other great names by winning three successive titles,” Vettel said.
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