When Sebastien Vettel crossed the line in sixth place at the last race of the season, sporting history was made. He had just won his third world title on the bounce, only the third driver in the history of the sport to do so and had become the youngest triple world champion in history.
Having enjoyed the level of success that he has at such a young age, there is much talk of him breaking the long held records of Michael Schumacher and, statistically at least, becoming the greatest of all time.
However, many in the sport believe that he is simply a decent driver who has taken advantage of the brilliant machinery provided to him by Red Bull and the technical genius of Adrian Newey. Fernando Alonso is widely regarded as the best all-around driver in the paddock at the moment, with Lewis Hamilton not far behind.
Vettel is a very good driver, there is no doubting that. Anybody who has achieved what he has done deserves a great deal of plaudits. However, until he has proved himself in inferior machinery or has beaten a teammate of the calibre of an Alonso or Hamilton, he will not get the respect he feels he deserves.
The reason Alonso has finally won over all of the critics this year, is because everybody can see what a terrible car he had to work with. He had absolutely no right to finish second in this year's championship and based on car performance alone should have finished behind both Red Bulls, the two MClaren's and possibly the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel has not had to struggle in his career. Admittedly, he has handled the expectation levels brilliantly and was phenomenally consistent in his outstanding 2011 season when he had the title sewn up with four races to go.
Vettel is contracted to drive for Red Bull until the end of 2014. He has been linked with Ferrari at the end of that time, with rumours that Fernando Alonso is happy to work alongside the talented German.
Could this be because he doesn't rate Vettel and wouldn't see him as a threat to work alongside? This thought gains credibility with longstanding rumours that Alonso told Ferrari he wouldn't be prepared to have Hamilton as a team mate after the difficulties they had working together in 2007.
We will only truly know how good Sebastien Vettel is when he leaves the comfort zone provided by Red Bull, and until he does, there will always be doubts about his extraordinary achievements.
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