Sebastian Vettel has impressed fans of Formula 1 the world over since his debut in half way through 2007.
Sebastian Vettel has impressed fans of Formula 1 the world over since his debut in half way through 2007. After winning his first race in a Toro Rosso at a rain soaked Italian Grand Prix, many exclaimed that Formula 1 had found its new Schumacher – a young, German, blonde and surprisingly charismatic Schumacher. After being unceremoniously dubbed “baby Schumi”, Vettel’s career went from strength to strength after graduating to the Red Bull team in 2009. He closely fought for the driver’s title that year, and since then has won it not once, but twice in the past two seasons.
While his on-track career has obviously drawn parallels with Michael Schumacher, the big daddy of the sport, winner of seven world championships and holder of a slew of records including most races won in a single season (13); Vettel is a different man out of his car. Schumacher was always known as being cold, distant, with an air of arrogance, something which has lessened slightly in his second F1 career. Vettel on the other hand, when things are going right, is chatty, friendly and keen to make a joke. Perhaps this is why he is so sought after by several rival teams: he appears easy to work with, but behind the wheel is almost an unstoppable force.
Even this year, after Alonso seemingly had the championship within his grasp with a handful of races to go, Vettel kept pegging away, while Red Bull worked furiously to improve their car, and in the last two races has not only caught up with the Spaniard, but taken the lead of the championship with him.
As the two biggest forces in Formula 1 currently battle for the championship, it is easy to wonder how this would play out if they were both driving for Ferrari, which, according to some sources, is a very possible prospect. The prancing horse has rarely had two drivers on equal footing in the team – everyone remembers the Schumacher and Barrichello years when the Brazilian was made to move over as early as the Austrian Grand Prix (the sixth of the season) to protect Schumacher’s championship. More recently, Alonso has clearly been slated as the number one driver in the team, while Massa plays rear gunner. As Luca di Montezemelo pointed out when asked about Vettel’s apparent move to Ferrari, it would be like having “two roosters in the same henhouse”.
Both are keen to win races and championships. Vettel loves picking up records, whether it is youngest race winner or fastest lap of each race, or most pole positions in the season. Alonso wants to win at the very least one more championship. It’s clear they both are keen to stamp their dominance in a team, so how will the team fare if both are fighting it out in the same car?
There is also the issue of moving to another team. Alonso is settled, knows the engineers and appears to have a good rapport with those he works with. Vettel seems to be happy at Red Bull, a team which seems to always come up trumps when it counts, while Ferrari have struggled recently to recapture the dominance of the early 2000s. Vettel looks to have the measure of Webber, although the rumblings will always continue over whether the German is favoured over the Australian. Red Bull is a safe place for Vettel, but partnering the force that is Alonso will be altogether a different story.
Perhaps he is keen to follow Lewis Hamilton’s footsteps and make a big career change, or maybe he believes Red Bull are happy with the success they have achieved and plan to step away from F1 in the next few years. Perhaps he wants to prove he can go up against someone many call one of the best, if not the best, in F1 currently. Either way, the prospect of Vettel in a Ferrari with Alonso is tantalising. Feathers will be ruffled.