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Updated: October 12, 2011 15:48 IST

V for victory

G. Raghunath
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Sebastian Vettel: A winner back to back .
AP Sebastian Vettel: A winner back to back .

Winning the Japanese Grand Prix makes Sebastian Vettel, the world's youngest driver, to clinch the World titles back to back.

Finally, Sebastian Vettel finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka (October 9) to wrap up his second world drivers' title – he needed only one point going into the race, but collected 15 – and become the youngest driver in the history of Formula One to win back-to-back crowns. The German is only 24 but is already being hailed as a veteran!

This speaks volumes of his prodigious talent and maturity, a quality that is prerequisite for a racer to become a champion but is scarcer than hen's teeth in modern-day racing.

It was only last year that the Formula One buffs spoke disparagingly about Vettel and his fool-hardy driving. And much to everyone's annoyance on the circuit, he was brazenly living up to his newly-acquired moniker, ‘Crash Kid'.

Hits and misses

More than his assignation with crashes and collisions – which went on for some time with monotonous regularity – it was the manner in which he blew away his chances from winning positions that frustrated people. It wasn't until the homestretch of 2010 that the Red Bull racer began to inspire confidence.

Beginning with the Japanese Grand Prix in October, he showed the world that he could do a lot more than crash his car; he could whip it to the chequered flag and win the world championship too.

This season, Vettel's 12 pole positions and nine wins in 15 races – he has finished on the podium in all but one race – with four more to go is the stuff of legends.

The German's dexterity in the handling of the rapidly degrading Pirelli tyres and the top-class Red Bull cars designed by the team's technical head Adrian Newey, popularly known as The Genius in the F1 circuit, have been attributed to Vettel's dominating performance this season.

While this cannot be disputed, the fact that Vettel has made far fewer and less egregious mistakes this year has also played a significant part in his heady run. Blunders such as the one he made in the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix – where Vettel drove straight into team-mate Mark Webber and gutted a potential Red Bull 1-2 finish – were like a long forgotten nightmare, and it is a far more confident and a vibrant Vettel that one has been witnessing in race after race this year. One has to also doff one's hat to Vettel's superb work ethic. He is an archetypal modern driver who insists on overseeing his crew put every detail of his car in place.

Setting records

The remarkable thing about Vettel is that he set a record in each year of his Formula One career that began in 2007 at the United States Grand Prix.

He became the youngest driver to score a championship point in 2007, youngest to win pole position and youngest to win a Grand Prix in 2008, youngest World Drivers' Championship runner-up in 2009, youngest world champion in 2010 and, in 2011, the youngest back-to-back world champion. Vettel also has two other records in sight this season – most wins in a season (Schumacher, 13) and most pole positions in a season (Mansell, 14).

Thereafter, what's left to conquer? Schumacher's seven world titles? There are not many in the circuit who now believe the feat is beyond the reach of the German sensation.


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