At just 26 years old, Sebastian Vettel has won four successive world titles in Formula One. It’s a remarkable achievement, but one that’s still not enough to keep the critics at bay.
So, how can Vettel silence his doubters in F1? It’s simple, really. He just has to keep on doing what he’s been doing.
Vettel’s numbers are astonishing, there’s no getting away from that.
Yes, the car underneath him is by far the best in the field, but it just so happens that it’s being driven by the best driver.
Vettel’s win in Abu Dhabi was his 11th this season and his 37th of his career, per Paul Weaver of The Guardian. In the remaining two races on the calendar, the German has the chance to match his compatriot Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 race wins in a single season.
But going above and beyond Schumacher’s achievements is what Vettel really wants, and needs, in order to bring the doubters on his side.
Vettel: "The numbers are not important to me, but equally they make me very very proud" - he is just 4 victories behind Ayrton Senna.— F1® Racing on NBC (@F1onNBCSports) November 3, 2013
Schumacher retired from the sport with seven world titles and 91 race wins, a feat that Vettel is closing in on. There’s no reason why Vettel cannot eclipse Schumacher in the coming years.
Racing legend Sterling Moss thinks that Vettel is already one of the sport’s all-time greats, per The Mirror:
The only thing is it’s difficult to compare today’s racing with my era because then we lost, unfortunately, three or four drivers a year and getting into an F1 car on the limit it was quite likely you’d get killed and that made it quite different. Luckily it’s different today. I am an immense fan of Vettel’s. He’s so young, he could probably scoop up 10 titles. He’s that good.
By breaking records and setting new ones in the short and long-term, Vettel’s doubters will eventually have to succumb to the realization that he is a phenomenon.
Vettel’s Human Side
Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate that Vettel is just like the rest of us. His superhuman efforts are extraordinary, but he’s also a great person too.
That is not to say, though, that other drivers in the sport are lesser men by any means.
Following this season’s race in India, where he secured his fourth world title, Vettel stayed behind with the team to help pack up.
We often hear the German praise his team over the radio, and it seems that he is always more than willing to do what he can to help the team.
For Vettel to win over some of his doubters, he needs to show more of that side to him. Twinned with that, of course, he must avoid the same incident in Malaysia that alienated some of the sport’s fans.
For many British fans, Vettel first endeared himself during his appearance on BBC motoring show Top Gear. His interview, which you can see below, portrays a relaxed and down-to-earth man who has an undeniable competitive streak.
He’s quite a normal guy really, isn’t he?
Vettel may go on to be considered as one of the sport’s greatest drivers of all time, only time will tell on that front. For him to be regarded as one of the sport’s good guys, however, he must allow his personality to shine through more often.
If he manages to achieve both, then F1’s boo-boys will warm to him.
Some fans would like to see Vettel drive for a lesser team, so that we can really see how good he is. By driving a car inferior to his wondrous Red Bull, he would be challenged in a way that we rarely get to see.
Where does Vettel rank among the sport's greats?
It’s a nonsense suggestion.
Would Lionel Messi drop down the divisions to show he is the world’s best footballer? Should Roger Federer have played Wimbledon left-handed to show that he is the greatest tennis player of all time? The answer to both questions is a resounding "no."
That he is supposedly making the sport boring is indicative of his and Red Bull's achievements.
Every fan of Formula 1 wants to see a closely fought drivers’ championship, but it’s not Vettel’s fault that we are denied that. The other teams and their drivers must step up.
Sometimes sports are dominated by an individual, for better or worse. Perhaps in the future we will look back on a fantastic driver and a great man, too.