Status: 11/18/2022 8:44 a.m

    Sebastian Vettel’s impressive career ends in Abu Dhabi. The four-time world champion was not even 20 years old when he entered Formula 1, where he set a number of all-time records. Now he resigns as a kind of “guilty conscience” of the racing series.

    “When I’m in the car, I have to be a scumbag to some extent” – with such loose sayings, the Formula 1 fans got to know Sebastian Vettel. That Vettel, who at the age of not even 20 in mid-2007 became the youngest driver in the motorsport premier class to score points. At the time, the press ridiculed the teenager as “Bonsai-Schumi”. A unique career followed with a total of four world championship titles.

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    “Being a racing driver was never my only identity”, says the now 35-year-old today. Vettel will contest his last Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday (November 20, 2022, from 2 p.m. in the live ticker on sportschau.de). From the outside, it looks like a real salvation for the Heppenheimer, who has largely lagged the competition in a barely competitive Aston Martin car for the past two years. After more than 300 Grand Prix races, of which he was able to win 53, he is now retiring. A career that was impressive in many respects comes to an end.

    2010: Vettel’s first world title

    Started at the age of three – in a racing car as early as kindergarten

    Vettel was just three years old in 1990 when he made his first attempts at driving a kart and, when he was kindergarten, raced against much older competitors in the “Graf Berghe von Trips” kart club in Kerpen. His father Norbert recognized the talent and brought him to motorsport, where he was supported, among others, by building contractor and Schumacher discoverer Gerhard Noack.

    From the age of seven, Vettel took part in kart races and has won various junior titles over the years. The warm bosom of the family was never far away at the races: his parents attended the race weekends in a mobile home together with his brother Fabian, who later also competed in motorsport, and his two sisters Melanie and Stefanie. In 2000, Vettel drew international attention for the first time by finishing sixth overall in the junior cadet class at the European Kart Championship. One season later he became Junior Kart European Champion in 2001.

    2003 in Formula 3, 2005 in the 900 hp BMW

    Vettel had arrived in the motorsport scene: he switched to formula racing for the 2003 season – he gained experience in Formula 3. In autumn 2005 he was allowed to test a Formula 1 car for the first time and in Jerez, Spain, a 900 hp BMW Williams drive.

    Although Sebastian Vettel was very successful in his races in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2006 and finished as runner-up, the Heppenheimer attracted much more attention at the end of August 2006 during training for the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Istanbul. Just two days earlier, the world automobile association FIA had granted Vettel, who had been promoted to BMW F1 test driver, the necessary super license when he set the best time in Friday practice.

    2007 – Reserve driver for BMW Sauber.

    2007 – youngest Formula 1 driver in the points

    Vettel made his Formula 1 debut in June 2007 as a substitute for the injured Sauber driver Robert Kubica at the US GP in Indianapolis, where he immediately scored a championship point in eighth place. As a result, at the age of 19 years and 350 days, he became the youngest F1 driver in history to finish in the points. At the end of July he switched to the Red Bull “backup team” Toro Rosso.

    Vettel’s first full Formula 1 season in 2008 began with four consecutive failures. It was only in the sixth race of the season that he achieved his first points finish with fifth place in Monaco. The highlight of the year then followed in September 2008 at the Italian GP in Monza. First Vettel secured pole position in rainy qualifying as the youngest winner of all time, one day later he went down in history at the age of 21 years and 74 days as the youngest GP winner. He finished the season in eighth place overall.

    Beverage company gives Vettel wings

    For the 2009 season, Sebastian Vettel joined the Red Bull racing team as David Coulthard’s successor. After a disappointing start to the season with two retirements, he managed another win in the third race of the season in China. From then on, the man from Heppenheim was one of the favorites and lived up to this role with further podium finishes and a win in Great Britain. Despite further failures, he remained in the title race and, after two wins in the last three races, became runner-up behind Jenson Button.

    As in 2009, Vettel threatened to lose the world title in 2010 due to unnecessary dropouts. But after two victories in the fourth last (Japan) and second last race (Brazil) he was again within striking distance of the overall leaders and flew to the season showdown in Abu Dhabi as third overall. There he benefited from Ferrari’s wrong pit strategy, won his fifth race of the season, was at the top of the world championship for the first time and became the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history at the age of 23 years and 134 days.

    Sebastian Vettel (r) and Mark Webber were teammates at Red Bull from 2009 to 2013.

    13 wins this season – the competition is left behind

    Three more world titles followed, at times Vettel drove the entire competition to the ground. In 2013 he achieved an incredible 13 victories, the last nine of them in a row.

    Then in 2015 the break – the change to Ferrari. In the second race of the season in 2015, Vettel celebrated his first victory in a Ferrari in Sepang/Malaysia and also won the races in Hungary and Singapore as the season progressed. Behind the dominant Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, he was only third overall in his Ferrari debut season.

    Disappointment with Ferrari

    The dream of winning the title with Ferrari did not come true. At first the car just wasn’t competitive, later the atmosphere in the team deteriorated. Vettel left Ferrari at the end of 2020. The comeback in the Aston Martin was even more disappointing from 2021. Vettel followed the competition – after two years the line was drawn: Vettel announced the imminent end of his racing career in the summer of 2022.

    This step had been suspected for a long time – Vettel had positioned himself as a critical spirit within the Formula 1 scene. Actions for the environment and aid organizations were given high priority. The protective helmet that Vettel wore in November 2020 on his last podium finish for Ferrari in Turkey was auctioned off on his website in mid-December for 225,000 euros. He donated the proceeds to projects for disadvantaged children in Africa.

    “Greener future” of Formula 1 demanded

    In addition, Vettel called on those responsible for the premier class to be pioneers in the development of environmental technology and to promote a “greener” future of Formula 1. He dealt with the future of the earth, became an ambassador for an Austrian bee project and admitted to picking up rubbish on private walks.

    Critics accused Vettel of hypocrisy in view of his environmental commitment. He was referred to as a “twelve-cylinder green man”. Vettel, who was previously reserved on such things, has increasingly taken a stance on political issues since 2021, which he attributed, among other things, to a phase of self-reflection during the 2020 racing break caused by the coronavirus.

    Sustainable use of resources required

    In everyday life, the sustainable use of resources has played a central role for him for some time, he said. The fact that a Formula 1 racing driver shows his environmental awareness to the outside world was dismissed as implausible, especially on social media. But Vettel saw no contradiction in this. “It’s something that concerns us all. There is no sport, no business, no activity and no program that gets around this topic,” he clarified.

    It became clear: Vettel had apparently become a thoughtful guy. And he said in the summer, shortly before leaving the race track: “My definition of identity is much more than being a racer. It’s about who we are and how we treat others than just what we do. Who am I? I’m Sebastian, father of three and husband to a wonderful wife .” From Sunday evening he will no longer be a Formula 1 driver.

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