Sebastian Vettel has become the youngest ever four-time Formula 1 world champion, at just 26 years and 123 days old. He now joins Juan Manuel Fangio (five championship titles), Alain Prost (four) and Michael Schumacher (seven) as the all-time F1 greats. Ayrton Senna had three championships under his belt.
Schumacher was 32 years old when he won his fourth title in 2011; Prost 38 in his comeback year in 1993, and Fangio only became a four-time champ after turning 45. In fact, when they were at Vettel’s age now, Fangio had yet to start his first Grand Prix, Prost was still chasing his first race win, and Schumacher was only celebrating his first title.
This latest feat adds to Vettel’s growing collection of F1 records. As it is, he’s already the youngest driver to have taken part in an official practice session of a Grand Prix, to score championship points, to lead a race, to get on the podium, to secure pole position, to win a race, and of course, to win the championship once, twice, three times and now, four.
The young German clinched the 2013 drivers’ title (and the constructors’ crown for Red Bull) with yet another dominant win at the Indian GP last weekend, the 36th in his short career so far. Just five more and he will have as many race wins as Senna, and though he’s still 55 GP victories off Schumacher’s record, time is on Vettel’s side.
Hats off, then, to Sebastian Vettel for all his achievements so far. He has his detractors, sure, but one simply does not claim this much success in such a short period without being somewhat special. Credit is due where it’s due, and both he and Adrian Newey certainly deserve it.
He has achieved all this, and he’s only 26. Who knows how many more wins, championships and records he will have amassed by the time he hangs up his racing helmet? Whichever way it swings, it will be history in the making. Sebastian Vettel: a living legend in his own time.