The fairytale of Sebastian the first, the conqueror


 Sebastian Vettel's career in Formula 1 like a fairy tale


Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a boy with thick blond hair. ​His heart raced for cars, so much so that when he was only three years old, his parents bought him a go-kart. 

​Like all little boys he drove for the fun of it, but deep down he wanted to go up the steps that would have brought the world to his feet. 

His dreams of conquest would not be fueled by arms. All he needed was the talent that Mother Nature had bestowed on him. And so it was that on June 17, 2007 Sebastian Vettel made his debut in Formula 1. A sensational debut, with 7th place in the qualifying round and 8th in the USA GP behind the wheel of a BMW Sauber with Brembo brakes. ​


That day Vettel became the only Under 20 to have gained points in Formula 1. A record that was beaten 7 years later but alerted all his rivals to what the boy from Heppenheim was capable of. Eight months earlier, a certain Michael Schumacher had hung up his helmet after winning 7 world titles driving steeds which used Brembo brake systems to stop. Sebastian’s feat aroused the interest of the German fans, but also in Italy, in Faenza to be precise, the eyes of many people became heart-shaped. 

​And so, from the Hungarian GP onwards, Toro Rosso took him on: better to have someone with such talent on your side rather than against you. Adapting to the new situation wasn’t easy, but in Japan the German showed a mixture of courage and intelligence and went into the lead on the 29th lap. Vettel was only 20 years, 2 months and 27 days old, almost one year and five months less than the previous record holder. It goes without saying, also on this great win, that Sebastian used the Brembo brakes which have always accompanied Toro Rosso. ​


From that moment on, the podium seemed to be so close and yet continued to be just out of reach: he came 4th in the 2007 Chinese GP and 5th first in the 2008 Monaco GP and then in the 2008 Belgium GP. As in all the best fairy tales, the wait before ascending to the throne was an integral part of Sebastian’s destiny. In Monza, on September 13, 2008, taking advantage of the rain, Vettel managed to put everything behind him first in Q2 and then in the decisive Q3. Just 76 thousandths of a second ahead, enough to make him the youngest poleman of all times, a record he holds to this day. 

As midnight struck, many believed the magic would have vanished and his rivals would have gobbled him up. Contrary to expectations, though, the day after his Ferrari-engined STR3 did not turn into a pumpkin thanks also to the driving skills of Sebastian who was the first to pass the checkered flag. Before then, no Under 22 had ever won in Formula 1: Vettel had succeeded in doing so at the age of 21 years, 2 months and 11 days, the second best performance of all time even today. In Ravenna he became a myth and King Mateschitz invited him to court to bring the imperial crown to Austria, a feat that none of his predecessors had succeeded in accomplishing. 

With Red Bull, he took just 3 races to achieve a second pole position-win. Encouraged by this, he set the bar higher and between June 20 and 21, 2009 he achieved pole position, won the British GP and the fastest lap time. All this when he was only 21 years, 11 months and 18 days old. ​



The team’s treasure chest, which included Brembo calipers among its various weapons, began to fill up and Seb finished second in the championship, 11 points behind Jenson Button, laying the foundations for his supremacy over the next four years. And yet, after retiring in South Korea because of problems with the engine, his chances of winning the 2010 title seemed reduced to nothing. He was only 4th in the standings, trailing 4 points behind Lewis Hamilton, 14 behind teammate Mark Webber and 25 behind Fernando Alonso. 

Then, at the end of a heart-stopping ride with the RB6, he escaped all attacks from his rivals and managed to breach the enemy fortifications, winning in Brazil. He had 15 points left to recover, a difficult load for a human to lift. However, Sebastian braced himself and with all his strength won at Abu Dhabi beating the opposition amid trumpet blasts and drum rolls. At the edge of the desert, Vettel ascended to the throne at the age of just 23 years, 4 months and 11 days and became the youngest sovereign in the history of Formula 1. The first year with Number One on the bodywork was a jubilee wherever he went: he won 11 GPs, achieved 15 pole positions and led 739 laps, improving on the historic records set in 1992 by Nigel Mansell on both counts. ​



His subjects loved him more and more, but on the edge of the empire, in Emilia Romagna, a handful of red soldiers plotted to remove him from the throne. The coup failed due to Sebastian’s quick response and in Brazil he fought off the last attack. Having learnt his lesson, with the help of the druid Adrian Newey, Sebastian strengthened the empire’s boundaries in 2013 and weakened the resistance with 9 (yes, NINE) consecutive wins. 

The abundance of delicacies filled the bellies of the Austrian generals who underestimated how strong their neighbors were becoming. They armed themselves with a new weapon, the turbo, whose immense potential was mostly unknown to the other armies. Sebastian was sad, because throughout 2014 he never came first, either during the qualifying rounds or the races. History had run its course and instead of remaining against his wishes at Red Bull, he tried to move to Ferrari which he had been secretly in love with since he was a child. Even back then, the Prancing Horse calmed his outbursts by mounting Brembo brake discs on its hooves as it had been doing since way back in 1975, even though they had less than a hundred holes at the time compared with over a thousand today. On their second date in Malaysia in 2015 they exchanged their first kiss and then Sebastian exploded in a cry of joy: “Thank you guys, come on Ferrari.” That year there were two more declarations of love, one in Hungary and one in Singapore. 

It’s probably best to forget about 2016 but the following year any differences were settled. Seated in his SF70H, Vettel first conquered Australia, then Bahrain and then Monaco. In the presence of Prince Alberto II, with a 25 point lead, Vettel began to aspire to a fifth reign. This was met with bitter disappointment despite a moment of pride in Hungary and one decidedly late challenge in Brazil. ​


The world had changed but Sebastian continued to have unconditional faith in his beloved team, which repaid him at the start of 2018 with forays in Australia and Bahrain. Before preparing the European campaign though, he had to get through China and Azerbaijan unscathed. Pierced by silver arrows from all directions, the Red Army was outnumbered and wearily continued for the rest of the season. 

The spell had broken: the wedding of the century was not a success despite both parties being in love and wanting to make it work. A last smile in Turkey and, at the end of 2020, Sebastian went into exile in Britain, birthplace of the foe in numerous battles. ​


The rising of young leaders aspiring to King Lewis’s scepter seemed to have diminished Vettel’s role. However, even at Aston Martin, Sebastian returned to confirm his talents and won a last podium place, in Azerbaijan. 

At 35 years of age, after ruling the entire planet for four years and winning on 21 circuits located in the four corners of the earth, taking pole positions on 23 tracks and standing on the podium in 26 different locations, Sebastian decided to retire to his home in Switzerland, coincidentally one of the most neutral states of all time. His feats will remain in the books of motorsport history.