“He has raised the bar,” Red Bull Racing’s chief designer Adrian Newey said. “He is 26, he has driven in 117 races, won 36 and won four championships. He hasn’t done that by mistake. He has done that with natural ability, a fantastic work ethic – he critiques himself – and engages and inspires people around him.
“We would not have won four titles without Sebastian but it’s all about a team. The fact is you cannot have just the best designer or a great driver – it is the team.”
It was a fascinating race, as Sebastian Vettel pitted from pole to discard his soft Pirelli’s after a mere two laps, then outpaced everyone else to come from the back to P1 and the checkered flag. By winning the Indian GP at Buddh International Circuit yesterday, Vettel vaulted himself into the realm of Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost as one of just four drivers to win four F1 World Championships. That he’s done so at an age (26) less than when Prost won his first Grand Prix race says everything.
A $1.7 million Formula One car with seven gears and a V-8 engine that will go 18,000 revs per minute isn’t really designed for doughnuts. And the finish line of a Formula One circuit really isn’t the smartest place to be doing them. But when you’re Sebastian Vettel and you’ve just sealed your fourth straight world championship, you can take some liberties.
“Rocky, my engineer, called for the usual procedure,” Vettel said on the podium after his title-clinching victory at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday. “But I said, ‘Yeah, not this time.’ And there’s so many people here on the main grandstand that I had to do it.”
With his doughnut-capped success, which he followed by standing on his car and then genuflecting before it, the 26-year-old Vettel became the youngest member of the four-title club, joining Fangio, Prost and Schumacher. And none of those drivers won their fourth title before their 30th birthday.