• Germany's news in English

Vettel: Formula 1’s undervalued whizz kid

Fred Searle · 7 Nov 2013, 12:42

Published: 07 Nov 2013 12:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Born in Heppenheim in the former West Germany, Vettel held up "the three Michaels" as childhood heroes. The first was pop star Michael Jackson, who Vettel wanted to be as a boy.

“It was painful to realise that I didn’t have the voice,” he joked in an interview with Formula 1’s official website www.formula1.com.

Becoming a basketball pro like his second hero Michael Jordan was also not an option, so Vettel decided to trace the tracks of Michael Schumacher.

Apart from sharing a nationality, Vettel draws comparison with the seven-time F1 world champion for his driving style, meticulous concentration and hands-on cooperation with teammates and engineers.

Vettel started amateur karting when he was just three, entering his first Karts series aged eight, and later winning several titles including the German and European Junior Karting Championships.

A 274km/h crash on the notoriously dangerous Spa-Francorchamps race track in Belgium nearly ended his career when he was just 18.

He badly damaged his right index finger, which almost needed to be amputated.

'Don't call me Baby Schumi'

In 2008 Vettel made his big breakthrough with his first Grand Prix victory.

And despite having idolized Schumacher, he brushed off German media attempts to label him “Baby Schumi”, insisting instead he was the “New Vettel”.

He has even overtaken Schumacher as well as other huge names in F1 racing with his achievements.

In 2008 Vettel became the youngest ever F1 race winner with his Italian Grand Prix victory aged just 21. And just two years later he won his first World Championship, making him the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history – ahead of Britain’s Lewis Hamilton.

Although Schumacher still holds the record for the most World Championship victories, at Vettel’s age he had only won two. Vettel has already won four.

After winning all the last seven Grand Prix races, Vettel will equal Alberto Ascari’s record of nine wins in nine if he wins the last two races of the season - in Austria and Brazil. He would also match Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a single year, according to the Guardian.

Not the fans' favourite

But despite his relentless success, Vettel has been given a hard time by fans who attribute his victory to the car rather than driver.

Experts have said that in order to achieve legendary status, Vettel must switch from his current team, Red Bull, and prove himself with another constructor.

But on Wednesday, the 26-year-old responded by saying “I am not thinking about driving for another team. I am happy where I am.

Story continues below…

“Even if I switched to another team, there would be people who couldn’t stand me and would criticise me,” he added. Vettel’s current contract with Red Bull runs until the end of 2015.

The young driver has also been booed by spectators in at least six races in 2013, including the Indian Grand Prix at the end of October when he clinched his fourth title.

"It's very difficult for me personally, to get boos, even though you haven't done anything wrong," he told BBC Sport. He suspected the abuse was coming from people who were fed up with seeing one team and one driver dominating the sport.

But Alain Prost, the retired French driver who also won four World Championships, was full of praise for the young German.

“He has understood what he needs to do to get the best results, how he needs to set up the car, and how he must work with his team. He deserves absolutely everything that he has achieved,” Prost said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel.

Zoom through some pictures of the Formula One ace here

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fred Searle (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd