Top moments of 2012, #2: Is Vettel on his way to become the greatest ever?

Sebastian Vettel has already achieved three world titles, 26 Formula One wins with 46 podium finishes, and 36 pole positions. An amazing record for one so young. slots him second on our top 20 moments of 2012.

The great young one: how many breaking records will he yet accomplish?

Sebastian Vettel has achieved a level of greatness that few 25-year-old racecar drivers can fathom. The young German stunned the world by becoming the youngest three-time world champion, but Vettel’s greatness did not begin there.

The ever-smiling German hit the F1 scene during the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix as BMW Sauber’s third driver. On his debut, Vettel stunned the field and went to the top of the time sheets in his first practice session. He did the same at the Italian Grand Prix the next week.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing celebrates his world championship in Graz, Austria
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing celebrates his world championship in Graz, Austria

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For the 2007 season the 19-year-old Vettel was still third driver, but a horrific crash by Robert Kubica at Canada opened the doors for Vettel. He stepped in for Kubica at the United States Grand Prix, qualifying seventh and finishing eighth. Making him the youngest driver to ever score a championship point.

The next year Vettel started off terribly, but he flipped a switch in 2008. After failing to finish the first four races of the season Vettel found his stride and a rainy track at Monza is where he showed the world the first true glimpse of greatness. The 20-year-old driver raced a mediocre car to the front of the pack and held his competitors off with a 12 second gap. His driving seemed effortless and perfect. The writing was on the wall. Great things lay in wait for the youngest driver to ever win a grand prix.

In 2009 Vettel transferred to Red Bull and with the help of Adrian Newey’s design Vettel became the youngest ever runner-up in the world championship. Jenson Button and Brawn GP won the title, but all eyes were on Vettel.

By the beginning of 2010 Red Bull had worked out many of their reliability issues. Their car was widely recognized as the fastest on the grid, but now it could make it to the end of races. Going into the final race of the season Vettel and four other drivers could win the title. However, Vettel’s determination and youthful greatness showed. He won the last race by a large margin to become the youngest F1 World Champion.

In 2011 Vettel dominated. He qualified on pole 15 times, won 11 races and earned 17 podiums in 19 races. He won his second consecutive world championship, becoming the youngest dual world champion, unseating Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso from the record books.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari

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This year Vettel set out to defend his title for the third year. His dominance had waned, but the young German still had the equipment and talent to stay at the front. Seven different drivers won the first seven races. The championship was wide open, but once again Red Bull was the team to beat as the season progressed. After the summer break, Vettel and Alonso rose to the top. And then came the Korean Grand Prix which Vettel dominated; the win gave him the points lead over Alonso by six points.

Vettel never lost the championship lead even with Alonso nipping at his heels for the remainder of the season. The Spaniard finished just 3 points off the young German.

He drove a champions' drive all season to now hold the record as the youngest three-time Formula One World Champion, and quite potentially the greatest driver since Michael Schumacher.

Next: moment #1 and Previous: moment #3

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Adrian Newey
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Sauber , Brawn GP
Article type Special feature
Tags alonso, newey, red bull, schumacher, top moment, vettel