After four World Championships, 53 Grand Prix victories, and 122 podium appearances, Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel announced that he would be retiring from the sport at the end of the 2022 season.
After releasing a video sharing his reasons for making this decision, the entire F1 community mourned their impending loss. But back in July, we knew we still had months to go until we would really have to say goodbye to one of the sport’s legends.
Unfortunately, we now only have one race left until we must face a Vettel-less grid. And to celebrate one of Formula 1’s most beloved drivers, we’re bringing back five of his best moments on track.
5. USA 2007
After Robert Kubica suffered a bad crash at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, BMW Sauber needed a replacement for the following race in the United States. Enter Sebastian Vettel.
As a test driver for the team, the 19-year-old stepped in and filled the role—making history, at that.
Vettel entered the race weekend strong, putting up an impressive showing in Saturday’s session, where he qualified to start in seventh, ahead of more experienced drivers including David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, and Rubens Barichello.
Come race day, Vettel proved that he was a force to be reckoned with. In fact, it hardly looked like he was filling in for someone else. After a massive crash on the first lap that took out three top drivers, the German managed to avoid the chaos and finish in eighth place.
With the win, he became F1’s youngest point-scorer at the time. It was the first time Vettel proved what he could do in an F1 race. But it certainly wasn’t the last.
4. Singapore 2013
After back-to-back wins from the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix in 2013, Sebastian Vettel came onto the Marina Bay Street Circuit in his most dominant form. And he and the entire Red Bull crew knew it.
On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton topped the first qualifying session, but Vettel topped the second with a comfortable gap. And in the third and final session, the Red Bull driver went on a blazing first lap to secure provisional pole.
With a sixth-tenth allowance to Nico Rosberg in second, Red Bull gambled and decided not to bring Seb out for another lap. The team was confident in the German’s lap time.
And they were right. None of the other nine drivers were able to challenge Seb’s time. And he went on to lead every single lap of the race, and on top of that, record the fastest time. His performance at this race is a defining moment of his dominance in the sport.
3. Brazil 2012
While 2013 saw Vettel’s unquestionable force on the track, the 2012 season went down to the wire. Coming into the final race, the Red Bull driver led the Championship by only 13 points over Fernando Alonso.
With the championship still at play, every position in the points mattered. Seb qualified fourth and Alonso in eighth. But on the first lap, the German suffered from a bad start.
He was forced wide by his teammate, Mark Webber, dropping him down three places. And to make matters worse, Bruno Senna hit the Red Bull in the back, pushing Sebastian all the way to the back of the grid.
However, this did not stop him. Title number three on the line, he made his way up. By lap 19, he was already up to the third place.
After a series of pit stops, Fernando Alonso was in the position to take the Championship. But Vettel would not have it. From a bad pit that pushed Seb further to 12th position, he made his way back to sixth place. And it was all he needed to secure the title.
He became the youngest three-time World Champion in the sport.
2. Italy 2008
Sebastian Vettel, as talented as he was at such a young age, also had to pay his dues as a driver. In particular, when he first moved to Toro Rosso, things started off rocky. In fact, he retired from the first four Grand Prix of the 2008 season.
But, by the Italian Grand Prix later that year, a glimmer of what we saw from the young gun in the USA in 2007 reappeared.
It was a rainy weekend at Monza in 2008—but this is where Sebastian Vettel found a way to thrive. The Torro Rosso was by no means the top car on the track. But under wet conditions, Seb took the Torro Rosso to pole position, becoming the youngest driver to ever start on pole.
And to his advantage, the rain poured down hard on race day too. After a rolling start to get the race going, Seb held on to his lead throughout the rough conditions, even as drivers behind him struggled in the rain. With a solid lead of over 12 seconds, he crossed the line comfortably as the race winner.
He became the then-youngest driver to win an F1 race—it was a historic weekend for the German.
1. Abu Dhabi 2012
Throughout the years, many people argued that Sebastian Vettel’s four World Championships were largely due to Red Bull’s car. And while he did drive the best car on track, there were countless moments that proved his skill despite any circumstances.
In the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2012, the odds couldn’t have been against Vettel more. After being disqualified from qualifying, he started the race from the pit lane. And as soon as the race started, his front wing got damaged.
Needing a pit stop to replace his front wing, Vettel came back on track in 21st—and that was it. Starting from the back, he climbed all the way up, making overtakes up until the last lap. He managed to finish on the podium in third place.
On top of this, this performance ensured that he stayed ahead in the Drivers Championship.
Ever since his debut appearance in 2007, Sebastian Vettel has given the Formula 1 world some of the best moments and most entertaining performances in history. He will surely go down as one of the greats, and his name will echo through the sport for generations to come.
Banner image from F1 on Twitter.