As Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to secure his fourth world championship on Sunday, at the Buddh International Circuit, he wasn’t the only driver being talked about. Names such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna were being bandied about, as Vettel cemented his position in Formula One history as one of the greats. Since his F1 debut in 2007, Vettel has broken records on his way to becoming, not only the youngest four time world champion but, one of only two drivers to win four titles back-to-back. The other man to do this? None other than Herr Schumacher himself. Only three men have won four or more titles before Vettel (Fangio, Alain Prost, and Schumacher) and the fact that Vettel is only in the early stages of his career suggests that there could be more to come!
In 2013, Vettel has been in a class of his own. Seven pole positions, 13 podiums, ten wins, and 15 points finishes from 16 starts have put him miles ahead of his rivals. He has won six races in a row since Belgium and can still beat Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a year. But how does this young German’s fourth championship stack up against his other three?
After rule changes shook the field up in 2009, Red Bull and Brawn GP rose to the fore. Vettel fought with Jenson Button for the 2009 title but ultimately lost out. He was one of five drivers who spent the year in contention for the 2010 championship – Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Button, and Mark Webber – and didn’t lead it once, or at least not until it really mattered. He won in Abu Dhabi eventually finishing four points ahead of Alonso, despite being 15 points behind going into the season finale.
Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared to his nearest rival at the end of the year (Alonso):
Both Vettel and Alonso had an up and down season in terms of scoring points. Vettel had four non-scoring races in comparison to Alonso’s three. Vettel only out-scored Alonso seven times from 19 races, while Alonso outscored Vettel eleven times. Both drivers scored on average around 13 points per race. But when it came to it, Vettel had four more points at the end of the year and so became world champion. His stats for the year included five wins, five further podiums, 15/19 points finishes and ten pole positions.
2011 was a different kettle of fish for Vettel and Red Bull. A pole position and win at the start of the year was an indication of what was to come. In stark contrast to 2010, he led the championship start to finish, winning by a whopping 114 points over his nearest rival Button. He outscored Button by an average of 7.6 points per race and never scored less than 12 points, up to the point of winning the title at round 15 in Japan. By the end of the season he was 122 points clear of Button.
Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared to his nearest rival at the end of the season (Button), at the point of winning the championship:
Vettel scored consistently throughout the season, not dropping below 12 points once. It was a steadier season than 2010 had been. It was a different story for Button and a couple of non-scores cost him. Vettel’s first (and only) retirement of the year came at Abu Dhabi (not shown on chart), after he had already wrapped up the championship and his point gap still increased. He won eight races on his way to the championship (not including races after Japan).
Following the dominance of 2011, it was back to a 2010-esque year in 2012 for Vettel and Red Bull. The championship went right down to the wire and even included a fight back from a 44 point deficit to Alonso. His first victory came at round four and he had three non-scores on his way to the title. Despite this, however, he scored 14.05 points per race (compared with Alonso’s 13.9) but ended the year with his narrowest margin yet, just three points clear of the Spaniard.
Here’s a look at Vettel’s season, points-wise, compared with closest contender Alonso:
As mentioned above, it is very similar to the season of 2010, with many peaks and troughs. A four race winning streak towards the end of the year really helped Vettel’s cause, as he started to claw back the -44 point deficit that had developed. By round 16 (the Korean GP) he was leading by six points and Alonso could do nothing to beat him, eventually finishing three points behind the now three-time world champion. As was the case in 2010, Vettel had five wins and five further podiums, 17 points finishes (compared with 15 in 2010) and six pole positions – his lowest tally.
Another dominating performance this season has seen Vettel wrap up proceedings by round 16, once again beating Alonso to the title. Since the Belgium Grand Prix he has won six races in a row, not allowing Alonso to stage any sort of comeback. His speed and domination have seen him secure pole position and then run away in the early stages of the race, allowing him to pit and still come out in front or near enough to it.
Once again, Vettel’s points throughout the season have been compared with Alonso’s, up to the Indian Grand Prix, where he won the title:
Both Alonso and Vettel have only had one non-scoring race each so far this season. An early three point lead over Vettel was wiped out for Alonso when he retired from the Malaysia Grand Prix and Vettel won. Vettel has scored an average of 20.1 points per race, which is an impressive average indeed. In contrast, Alonso has only scored 12.9 points per race. The Red Bull driver’s basic stats for 2013 read ten wins, three further podiums, 15 points finishes and seven pole positions – they speak for themselves.
The above diagram maps out Vettel’s points difference to nearest rival i.e. the driver who finished second. The 2010 and 2013 lines only go as far as the rounds that Vettel won the championship at, and of course 2013 is still in progress. To recap, 2010, 2012 & 2013 are against Alonso and 2011 is against Button. In 2011 Vettel did not fall behind Button in the championship once. 2012 was when he dropped the furthest behind a rival, and for the longest time, while 2013 has had a solid end to it, aided by the six wins of course!
So, there we have it. A look at the four championships years for Sebastian Vettel. He has come from behind, he has led from the get-go, and he has faced some tough competition. There does seem to be a bit of a pattern emerging and, if he does find himself in contention for a fifth title in a row in 2014, he could have a bit of a fight on his hands!
Congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull for their incredible achievements.