Sebastian Vettel (pronounced fettel) was born on July 3rd, 1987 in Heppeheim in Germany. A naturally gifted driver, Vettel rose through the ranks of lower formulae quickly and is poised to have a long and flourishing Formula One career.
At just eight years old, Vettel competed in karting and son earned himself a reputation of a quick driver. Between 1995 and and 2003 Sebastian would win various titles and accolades in the karting world and his name, despite being so young, was already on the tongues of many Formula One team owners and operators. In 2003, Vettel moved on to open-wheeled racing with the German Formula BMW Series which he totally and impressively dominated in 2004, winning eighteen of the twenty races.
For 2005 Sebastian moved to the Formula Three Euroseries with the ASL Mucke Motorsport team, earning himself 64 points in his debut season and finishing in fifth place. The only person who really presented Vettel a real challenge all year was another driver who would eventually go on to set the Formla One world alight, Lewis Hamilton. Towards the end of the year Vettel was awarded with a test for Williams and BMW Formula One teams, impressing both squads with his maturity and pace.
Sebastian continued with the Formula Three Euroseries in 2006, this time with the ASM Formule 3 team. Vettel would go on to finish the season in second behind champion Paul di Resta. 2006 also saw Vettel’s debut in the Renault Word Series, winning his first race after Pastor Maldonado was disqualified. It was in this racing category that Vettel almost lost a finger when a piece of debris from an accident cut across his cockpit. He was expected to take a few weeks out of racing to recover from his injury but the following weekend Vettel was back in the car at the Ultimate Masters of F3 Zandvoort race, finishing the event in sixth and showing good spirit and attitude.
It was also in 2006 that Vettel took another step closer to Formula One. 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve left the BMW team and the German squad promoted test and reserve driver Robert Kubica to the race seat. Thus, Vettel replaced Kubica in the support role and started to develop a good relationship with the BMW team boss Mario Thiessen.
His first roll down the pit lane at the Turkish Grand Prix went down in history as the youngest participant in a Formula One meeting; Vettel was just 19 years and 53 days. He also became the quickest driver in history to get a penalty, having been fined $1000 for speeding in the pitlane just nine seconds in his career.
2007 would prove to be a great year for the young German. Although his debut at a Formula One event had passed, following his Friday practice duties which impressed just about every member of the F1 paddock, his race debut and first few events would impress further. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica had a terrible accident heading down the back hairpin. His car was badly damaged and the Pole had to extricated from his car by medical personnel. Although his car was destroyed, Kubica suffered minor injuries, but as a precaution was told to sit out the next race in order for his brain to settle down and recover. Vettel was promoted to the race seat for the following United States Grand Prix. Sebastian started the US race in seventh and finished in eighth, becoming the youngest driver to score a point at 19 years and 349 days. Kubica returned for France, but it wasn’t long before Vettel was back in action.
Four races later at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Sebastian was rolling down the pit lane to start a race again, but this time it was in a Scuderia Toro Rosso. The team had endured a very public disagreement with its driver Scott Speed. Speed departed and permission was sought for Vettel to be released from his BMW contract and allowed to race for STR. Permission was granted and Sebastian left for his new home.
The STR, owned by Red Bull and powered by Ferrari was doing reasonably well, but at the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix the Red Bull cars did exceptionally well. Mark Webber in the RBR3 almost won the event and both STRs weren’t too far behind. However, behind the safety car Lewis Hamilton was driving erratically and an accident, which was initially said to be Vettel’s fault, ensued, causing the retirement of both Vettel and Webber. Sebastian was later exonerated for the incident, although photographs of a tearful driver were already littering the internet and motorsports publications.
The following weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix Vettel had forgotten about the woes of Japan when he finished his STR in fourth claiming six points and lifting himself off the bottom of the tables. Team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi also finished in the points in sixth place.
Sebastian continued with e STR team in 2008, this time being partnered with multiple Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais.