Picking ten races from ninety-nine shouldn’t exactly seem like a difficult task. After all, we’re talking about selecting pretty much a tenth of someone’s races – the tenth that really stand out. But when you’re dealing with someone of Sebastian Vettel’s calibre, picking those ten is extremely challenging. After all, he’s won twenty-six of those events and had plenty of outstanding drives in races where he didn’t leave as the victor. Therefore here are ten of his most memorable races.
2007 Chinese Grand Prix (4th)
Having replaced Scott Speed at Toro Rosso, Vettel’s initial results showed promise but nothing extraordinary. Then came his drive in Japan, where he was set for a podium in atrocious conditions until he hit the back of Mark Webber. Vettel went back to the pits for a cry with his big chance seemingly gone. But a week later in China, he put in another outstanding drive to claim fourth place in tricky conditions. He’d redeemed himself.
2008 Italian Grand Prix (1st)
It was one of those weekends where everything just fell perfectly into place. A wet qualifying saw him take a shock pole position and few expected him to remain there come race day. But he simply pulled away from the rest of the field and eventually won by twelve seconds.
2009 British Grand Prix (1st)
Vettel had already claimed a dominant victory in China – Red Bull’s first – but his results had led some to question whether he was a wet weather specialist. At Silverstone, he took pole position and dominated the race to take his third F1 win in a season where he finished as runner-up to Jenson Button.
2010 Turkish Grand Prix (Retired)
Vettel was under pressure. Webber had won the previous two races and was leading again in Turkey. The two drivers were equal on points and now under pressure from McLaren. Vettel had one lap to make his move before he’d have to start conserving fuel. At the end of the back straight, he made his move, turned in on Webber and was sent spinning into the gravel. McLaren claimed the spoils, Vettel made a ‘crazy’ gesture as he climbed from his car and the pressure mounted.
2010 Korean Grand Prix (Retired)
Vettel had taken victory in Japan and was starting to exert pressure on Webber as the championship rolled into a barely finished Yeongam circuit. Heavy rain meant that the race was stopped for an hour and when it restarted, Vettel stormed into a lead. Webber cracked, crashed out and Vettel was cruising to the win. Then his engine failed with just eight laps remaining. It was a cruel blow.
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (1st)
Vettel was fifteen points down and had little prospect of winning the championship, after all he had to beat Webber and Fernando Alonso to stand even a chance. Vettel did everything he could by taking pole position and the victory, while Webber and Alonso became trapped behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov. Vettel won the championship and couldn’t believe he had done it.
2011 Monaco Grand Prix (1st)
A one stop strategy wasn’t supposed to be possible and there was some luck involved in this win. Vettel started from pole position and made just a single stop onto the prime compound tyres. He defended from Alonso and Button every lap and didn’t falter. When the race was stopped after a multi-car pile-up, Vettel could put on a fresh set of tyres and ease to his first Monaco win.
2011 Italian Grand Prix (1st)
This was the race that Red Bull wasn’t supposed to win. Their inferior top speed was going to hinder them, they said. A short 7th gear meant that pole position was vital and Vettel obliged, with a half-second margin. Alonso overtook him at the start, but Vettel got revenge on Lap 5 by going around the outside of Curva Grande. The win duly followed and tears flowed on the podium as Vettel recalled his 2008 success.
2012 European Grand Prix (Retired)
In a year that saw seven different winners in the opening seven races, Vettel was set to break the chain and become the first multiple winner of 2012. Qualifying was extraordinarily close, yet Vettel pulled out an advantage of 0.3s in Q3. He eased away during the race and was maintaining the gap to Romain Grosjean when his alternator failed. It was yet another blow to a stuttering season.
2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (3rd)
Vettel’s four consecutive wins were brilliant, but in Abu Dhabi he proved a lot of critics wrong. Starting from the pit lane, he pulled off a series of measured moves and fought with a determination that some didn’t think he possessed. He finished on the podium and limited the championship damage to Alonso. Only time will tell if that drive wins him a third world title.