Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel’s STAYING until 2024

Since the tweet announcing that he was being dropped by Ferrari back in 2020 it has been, to put it mildly, a bumpy journey for Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1. And no, I’m not talking about Proposing. 

There has been a lot of talk about Vettel leaving the sport at the end of 2023 and how he’s lost his edge or can’t fight for wins unless he has a car that drives in a specific way.

However it hasn’t been that long since Vettel was leading a championship, well…it was 2018, which for an old man like me in my 30’s isn’t that long ago.

It’s time for us to talk about the future of Sebastian Vettel and to do this we need to take a Short View back to the past!

There was a time where Vettel was the Verstappen of his day, in more ways than one. Prior to becoming the loveable environmental hero he is today, there was a time when he was the up and coming young driver that was the future prodigy and a big gamble for Red Bull. It’s not surprising that he was seen as a BIG future talent given that he starting karting at age 3 and began his professional karting career at only eight years of age. Side note: his heroes at the time were the “three michaels”, Michael Schumacher, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson. One of whom definitely would have loved eight year old Vettel.

He was accepted into the Red Bull Junior team in 1998 at only age 11. This was back when Red Bull was only a title sponsor of Sauber in Formula 1 but was building itself as a solid name in the sport, before eventually purchasing two teams, first their main team from Jaguar and turning it into Red Bull racing and then buying Minardi, branding it as their junior team Torro Rosso.

Vettel caught the right eye of Helmut Marko as he began racking up titles, including winning the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001. This put him on a path to rapid promotion and in 2004 he won the Formula BMW championship, taking 18 victories in 20 races that season. This little German was going places.

At only 18 years of age he was already a test driver for Sauber BMW, the future was bright for Sebastian Vettel and much like Verstappen, he had skipped the need to run a pesky Formula 2 career. 

Kubica’s crash at the 2007 Grand Prix would end up being Vettel’s opportunity and at the Canadian GP that year, he finished 8th, becoming the youngest driver at the time to score a point in an F1 race. Red Bull had seen enough and he immediately replaced Scott Speed from to drive for Torro Rosso the Hungarian GP onwards. I’m glad Red Bull doesn’t still swap drivers around mid season like that these days, what a mess. Also another quick side note here, Scott Speed…seriously, no wins or even points. His surname is literally fucking Speed…like what the fuck.

At this point the game was on for Vettel, he had made it to his dream of being a Formula 1 driver like his hero Schumacher. Now he had to prove he could cut the pervedbial Mustard. The 2008 season didn’t get off to a good start as after four races he failed to finish any of them, the only driver to do so that season. However after scoring points at Monaco, he then started becoming a points finisher, causing the Torro Rosso Technical Director to praise the young driver, “Suddenly Vettel understood something about how to drive an F1 car quickly. It made a huge difference – not only to the speed he could unlock but also to his ability to do so consistently.”

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At the Italian GP that year, rain fell and Vettel was in his element. He finished 12.5 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Haiki Kovelinen, taking the win, becoming at the time the youngest driver in F1 aged 21 years and 74 days to win an F1 race. Team boss Gerherd Bergher then added his own praise to the young German, “As he proved today, he can win races, but he’s going to win World Championships. He’s a cool guy.” This win gave him the nickname “Baby Schumi” among the German Media.

After being moved up to the Red Bull team, replacing a retiring David Coulthard in 2009. He took the pole and win at the Chinese GP, a first for Red Bull, but that year would go to Brawn. It would be the next year when Vettel would start a sprint of success that would cement his name in Formula 1 history.

Vettel entered the final race of 2010 at Abu Dhabi with a 15 point deficit to Alonso. He won from pole, and Alonso, finished only 7th. This made him, still to this day, the youngest driver in the history of the sport to win a World Driver’s Championship. Also following John Surtees in the 1964 season and James Hunt in 1976, this was the third time in Formula One history that the title winner had not topped the championship table until after the last race

He would go on to win the next 3 championships, making it 4 championships between 2010 and 2013. This puts him on paid with Alain Prost. This gave us some interesting moments, including the incredibly Multi 21 controversy at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix where he decided to pass Webber even after being told to hold position. 

Interestingly looking back, given how loved Seb is today, at the time he was one of the most hated drivers on the grid. Similar in someways to the fanbase split decisions of Verstappen and Hamilton today. However more interestingly was that at the time this even extended to other drivers on the grid.

The simple fact in those days, was much like Hamilton’s run of glory, Red Bull had the dominant car but also knew how to set it up for their driver. In 2011 onwards, they would place it in the best setup for Qualifying, as no one could touch Vettel’s one lap pace in those days. Thus from pole, he would quickly get out of DRS range and then just run away from the rest of the field, creating a dull race for those behind with no chance of victory. His one finger celebration didn’t help with making him more of an arrogant driver in those days. Like Hamilton in 2021, this caused a lot of even the fans to boo him on podiums. Fans don’t like, understandably, a dominant winner as it makes F1 boring. 

However the other drivers, also didn’t seem to get on with Vettel. Obviously his own teammate Webber, who was forced into the number 2 role, thankfully Red Bull don’t do this today. Another point during this time that is extremely funny in hindsight, in 2013 Hamilton was quoted as saying “this dominance is terrible for the fans, it makes the sport boring.” 

None of this mattered to Seb, the fact he was hated be much of the fanbase, grid and media, seemed to push him to only drive better.

The turbo-hybrid era would change everything for Vettel and he was even beaten by Ricciardo in 2014. At this point, he was offered a contract he couldn’t turn down and moved, like his hero, to Ferrari for 2015. Now that he was fighting the dominant Mercedes and pushing Ferrari back to the top, the hate fell away and he became the loveable driver he is known as today. However more importantly, he was putting up a title fight for the red car.

In this period of his career, most seem to have written him off saying that he can’t be competitive in anything less than a dominant car. The standings though tell a different story. In 2015, he finished 3rd in the standings, 128 points ahead of teammate Kimi. In 2016, he finished 4th, behind previous teammate Ricciardo in the Red Bull…alright this one must have hurt. 

In 2017 he put on a solid title fight against Hamilton. We know how dominant the Mercedes was in this time, so this was a solid feat. He finished with 317 points, to Hamilton’s 363, with Bottas in the other Mercedes having 305, 100 points ahead of Kimi. 

Throughout 2017 and 2018, Vettel and Hamilton traded the championship lead. Seb really was showing he could still display his amazing skill even in the non-dominant car. 

After leading the entire race at home in Hokkenheim 2018, ended with a slide into the wall.

It seems like after this he never really recovered, and even though he’s had a sprinkle of wins since, this race marked the end of his form. Leclerc joining in 2019 would also mark the start to the end of his Ferrari career. 

Finally in 2020, he was let go from Ferrari and joined Aston Martin, replacing Sergio Perez.

Now we haven’t really had a chance to see Vettel at the front since, given the pace of the Aston Martin cars for the 2021 season and so far this season. However it’s fair to say that he has shown some glimmers of former brilliance during two crazy races last year at the Hungarian GP and of course Baku. At the point of recording this video though, most are writing off Vettel and discussing how this is the final chapter in the story of Seb in F1. 

I’m not so sure.

We’re going to be doing an in dept look at technical aspects of the Aston Martin car philosophy (and it’s closeness to Red Bull) in the coming weeks [So make sure to subscribe to get the notification], but for now I want to quickly talk about why I think we’ll see Vettel with this team until at least 2024, when he’ll be the ripe old age of 36.

Adding some context, Hamilton is now 37 and he’s not even the oldest driver on the grid. Sebastian Vettel is only 34 and I don’t think he’s the type to go out at the bottom. There are several reasons why I am confident that we’ll see Vettel on the grid until at least the end of 2024. 

The first is that Vettel clearly is willing to face a challenge, as we saw with Ferrari, and I’m sure would have been briefed on Aston’s plans coming into the 2021 season. Vettel is one of the most intelligent drivers on the grid and runs the nickname Inspector Seb due to his interest in the engineering of other cars on the grid. Aston had a big challenge ahead of them but it’s a team that is building the facilities, staff and funding to be on an upwards trajectory. 

Given how their car currently looks, it has a lot of similarities to Red Bull in 2008. It has even more when we compare 2022 to 2009. New regulations that are substantially different and it would take Red Bull a year to catch up. On top of this Aston Martin is focusing most of its attention to the 2024 season as by then they’ll have all of the staff and facilities they need in place. Whether you’re a fan on Aston bringing a very Red Bull like car to the Spanish Grand Prix, the fact that they built two different car philosophies shows just how serious they are to their cause. 

Vettel knew that the team was on a journey, investing heavily and building it’s infrastructure. Everything they are doing points to coming good around 2024. It is my very firm opinion that Seb’s, multi year, deal gave him the first option to a seat with the team until 2024. It would make sense that he’ll stay until then, as how would he feel if he leaves at the end of 2022 and the team brings a championship winning car for 2024. 

The second reason is that Vettel is pushing big time for environmental change. Similar to how Hamilton has said that his voice will allude more change while he’s an F1 driver, Seb will be able to get more media attention for his causes while he’s an F1 driver. 

He’s still relatively young as an F1 driver at 34 and this gives him 2-3 more years where he can build an organisation to help effect change in different countries. He can earn millions, spread his message, and as we saw on a recent episode of Question Time about the hierocracy…. F1 is moving towards becoming much more sustainable, if he’s part of that change, it helps to further his cause. 

Basically Vettel knew that the the team was a long term project, he seems to be enjoying the journey of a team that is allowing him to have influence, he’s getting paid millions to do it and lastly it’s helping him push for his personal causes. I’m almost 100% sure that Vettel will be in the sport until 2024 at least, that he’ll win some races in the interim, and that you’ll subscribe, like and watch this video popping up next!

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