Sebastian Vettel: could this be a name to enter F1 history books in the future?
After a stunning performance in Monza this year, many are tipping the German starlet to go on to bigger and better things. Currently at Red Bull's unofficial 'B' team (Toro Rosso), it has been announced Vettel will replace the retiring David Coulthard at Red Bull to partner Mark Webber next year; this is only just the start for the talented youngster.
Vettel's big break came in 2006 when he became BMW Sauber's third driver. He was announced as the test driver for them in 2007. He entered his first race (the U.S. Grand Prix) after Robert Kubica was injured in a crash in Montreal, Canado.
Vettel started the U.S. Grand Prix in seventh and finished eighth, making him the youngest driver ever to claim a point (beating Jenson Button's record). Soon, he replaced Scott Speed at Toro Rosso and had further signed with the team for 2008.
However, Vettel was unable to keep up his strong showing in the United States. In Fuji, he was up to third, but then had a collision with Mark Webber's Red Bull. However, he bounced back to claim fourth place at China, a personal and team best.
The 2008 season looked set to be bigger and better for Vettel. However, it took him five races before he even finished.
He then claimed his first points in Monaco after finishing fifth, following that up with one more point in Canada. He then came 12th in France, retired in Silverstone, and came eighth in Germany. He impressed many in the European Grand Prix finishing 6th.
This year's Italian Grand Prix was when the boy became a man. He became Formula One's youngest pole winner, being quickest in the second and third stages of qualifying.
He was able to contain Heikki Kovalainen and win by 12.5 seconds. Aged just 21 years and 74 days, he became the youngest winner ever in F1, beating Fernando Alonso's record. It was also the first win for Toro Rosso who still has Minardi "DNA." (Minardi was the team's banner before they came under partial Red Bull ownership).
There has been high praise for Vettel. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz believes Vettel will be one of Formula One's big stars. "Vettel is one of the young guys with extraordinary potential. He is fast, he is intelligent, and he is very interested in the technical side."
His team boss and co-team owner, Gerhard Berger, shared similar sentiment. "As he proved today, he can win races, but he's going to win world championships. He's a cool guy" Current leader of the standings, Lewis Hamilton, said the Monza victory shows "How good he is."
The youngest, and double, world champion Fernando Alonso said Vettel's victory was "Well deserved." The German media have nicknamed him "Baby Schumi," although Vettel has played this title down.
So what is on the horizon for Formula one's new youngster? At the end of 2007, McLaren approached Toro Rosso to get Vettel as a replacement for Alonso. Ferrari are rumoured to be interested for next year, but Red Bull claim Vettel will be joining them as a replacement for Coulthard.
One thing is almost certain though: he can only get better.
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