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The Sports Lowdown’s Greatest Formula One Drivers of all time No. 9 – Sebastian Vettel

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Formula One has been blessed with some truly outstanding drivers in the past, and whilst they should all be respected in their own right as world champions – many of whom have won multiple titles – it is human nature to try and compare drivers of different generations.  Here at ‘The Sports Lowdown’ our chief Formula One writers Dan Culyer and Ben Boorman attempt to do just that. In a daily countdown, they will formulate a list of the greatest drivers – past and present – in an attempt to decipher who is the greatest the sport has ever seen.

Whether it is Senna; or Schumacher; or Prost; or Hamilton; or Clark; or Stewart; or Vettel – be sure to keep an eye on proceedings at The Sports Lowdown, and as usual we would love to hear your views on our list, so any comments would be greatly appreciated. 


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No. 9 – Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel – now a four-time World Champion – announced himself to the world of motor-sport after winning his first world title in a thrilling finale in Abhu Dhabi in 2010. What followed was three years of complete dominance for both Vettel and car manufacture Red Bull, during which time he has cemented his place as one of the greats of the sport.

In fact, to say it took until his first World Championship for Vettel to make a name for himself is slightly untrue: he had long been considered an exciting prospect with huge success at Karting level, which saw him drive for Red Bull’s junior team aged 11. What his first title did do, however, was turn him from an incredible young prodigy, to a global superstar, and since then Vettel has gone from strength to strength.

As well as his four world titles, Vettel has a host of personal records to his name: the youngest single and double world champion, the most career points, most points in a single season, most pole positions in a season and the joint most amount of wins in a season, to name but a few. He is tied in third place with Ayrton Senna on 41 race wins, and is fourth on the list of pole positions, with a total of 45 poles. The statistics therefore prove that Vettel is more deserving than most to be on this list, and still only 28 years old, there are still many years remaining of his career for him to increase his tally.

Throughout his career, Vettel has drawn many comparisons to compatriot Michael Schumacher, for their similarity in driving style, sheer determination and a relentless work ethic. In 2011 Pirrelli’s Paul Humbrey was impressed when Vettel was the only driver to take the time to visit the factory and talk to the tyre manufacturer to gain a better insight and improve their racing. Humbrey stated that the  “only other driver that asks us a lot of questions is Michael Schumacher.” Hembery “found that interesting. It is like seeing the master and the protégé at work”. Naturally, his unerring success on the track has only increased Vettel’s reputation, but when looking closely it is clear that Vettel has taken after the man he idolised growing up.

There are three types of driver in the world: the first is the out-and-out racer – the drivers who wear their heart on their sleeve and give everything they have on every corner and straight, on every lap, regardless of where they sit in the race or championship. This is the driving style that is commonly associated with Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton. Then there is the opposite: those who take a more conserved and cautious approach to racing and who see the Championship as the end goal and believe that every point counts in the title race. Niki Lauda, Fernando Alonso and Alain Prost epitomise this driving style. And then there are those who are in between: on one hand steely eyed and determined to win every race, but are also not overly naive in their approach to races. And in that category lie Schumacher and Vettel.

And that is what makes Vettel such a successful driver – he can push when he needs to, but can just as effectively coast when needed to win the race. An incredibly consistent driver, Vettel’s greatest strength is his composure and professionalism, and whilst he is may not be as fast as the likes of Hamilton, he makes up for it with clever, tactical and mature racing.

Don’t confuse this with a lack of desire though! During his well-documented partnership/ rivalry with Mark Webber, Vettel often overstepped the line in his desire to win, and in a similar way to Schumacher, would go to any length to win the Championship, even if that involved taking out his team-mate or ignoring team orders.

So why is he not higher up on this list?

There remains a cloud of doubt over Vettel’s head: many critics will say that he has not yet proven himself in a weaker car. They point to his four World Championships as a result of a dominant car, in a dominant team, rather than the pure skill of the driver. And it must be said, they do have a point: Vettel is undoubtedly in the top three drivers of his generation – along with Hamilton and Alonso – but is he better than them?

But then, at the end of the day, there will always be critics, no matter how successful one is. Sebastian Vettel is an outstanding driver, and one of the best the world has ever seen. And who knows? He may yet add a couple more world championships to his increasing trophy cabinet.


Thank you for reading this article. Leave comments below.


Tomorrow: Number 8 – ?

Ferarri Formula One Pirelli Racing Red Bull Sebastian Vettel

About Dan Culyer

I am a 17 year-old sport fanatic - particularly when it comes to football, formula one, tennis and swimming/ water polo! I am a part-time sports journalist, as well as a fully qualified football referee! I particularly enjoy doing in-depth opinion pieces, with detailed analysis of players, teams and tournaments!

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