In winning the 2013 Indian Grand Prix this week – his six straight victory of this season – Sebastian Vettel became the youngest driver ever to win four consecutive F1 world titles. Only two drivers have ever managed four titles on the trot before him: Juan Manuel Fangio (1953-58) and Michael Schumacher (with five in a row between 2000-2005). Frenchman Alain Prost is the only other driver to have taken four F1 world titles – but no-one’s managed the feat as fast as Seb.
Sebastian Vettel’s F1 record: the stats
At 26 years and 113 days old, Vettel’s fourth title came after just 117 race starts – Michael Schumacher was six years older than that before he won his fourth title. And by contrast, Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber took 130 starts just to win his first F1 race. Vettel’s 117 races include 36 wins: fourth in the F1 record books behind Michael Schumacher (91), Alain Prost (51) and Ayrton Senna (45). His pole position record is even better: 43 first-place qualifications is the third-best record in the sport’s history, behind Senna’s 65 and Schumacher’s unbeaten 68.
The points record is a little more spurious: Vettel’s current haul of 1376 points puts him third in F1’s all-time scoreboard, behind, Michael Schumacher (1566 points), and Fernando Alonso, with his 1571-point total. However, with modern races offering 25 points for a win (versus only 10 points for a pre-2010 victory), that’s perhaps a disservice to F1’s multi-championship-winning old-timer.
If Vettel follows the precedent set by Schumacher and Barrichello to race into his forties, there’s the potential for the German to become the first double-digit title-winning champion in F1’s history – as long as he can cope with the turbocharged V6 regulations coming into force from 2014.
And about those donuts…
Doing its best to suck any semblance of joy or entertainment out of Vettel’s championship triumph was of course F1’s governing overlords, who fined Red Bull Racing €25,000 for Vettel’s four celebratory donuts on the Buddh International Circuit’s pit straight, and slapped a reprimand on the driver – whose annual salary tops €12m.
Red Bull Racing, meanwhile, is set to enjoy an estimated €47m (£40m) windfall in prize money, before sponsorship incentives, including championship bonuses, are considered. On that basis, we’d have done a few more donuts, given they’re charged at just £5300 a pop…
>> What’s your take on Vettel’s dominant fourth world title? Is the young German an all-time great in motor racing? Click ‘Add your comment’ below to get involved