Vettel, one of four children was born on July 3, 1987 in Heppenheim, Germany to Norbert and Heike Vettel. His father was a keen racer competing in various hill-climb events. An indifferent student his childhood heroes were “The three Michaels” – Michael Schumacher, Michael Jordan, and Michael Jackson. Vettel started amateur karting at the young age of 3½ and began racing in 1995, at the age of eight. Having shown talent at an early age, he was accepted into the Red Bull Junior Team at age 11. He was immediately successful and won various titles, including the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2001. In 2003, he was promoted to open-wheel cars and won the 2004 German Formula BMW Championship with 18 victories from 20 races. Having impressed in his first season of auto racing in 2003, Vettel was given a chance by Derrick Walker to test a Reynard Motorsport Champ Car in a two-day private test at the Homestead road course.
In September 2005 he was invited to test a BMW Williams Formula One car. The following August he was BMW Sauber’s first choice to replace third driver Robert Kubica, who had been promoted to a race seat following Jacques Villeneuve’s sudden departure from the team.
Vettel didn’t look back and notched up a series of impressive Friday outings as the test driver for the German-Swiss squad. When the season finished, BMW decided to retain Vettel for 2007. Getting an unexpected F1 race call-up for the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, standing in for an injured Kubica who had suffered a concussion in Canada. The 19-year old German finished a respectable eighth place.
Less than two months later he was rewarded with a full-time race seat with Toro Rosso, replacing departing American Scott Speed from the Hungarian round onwards. He scored the team’s best ever result with a fourth place in China and was retained for 2008, when, after a difficult start to the season, he went from strength to strength to firmly establish himself as a potential future champion, winning his and Toro Rosso’s first Grand Prix in Italy and earning a switch to Red Bull’s ‘senior’ RBR team for 2009.
Vettel’s star continued to rise as Red Bull emerged as the only serious rivals to Brawn GP in the fight for the 2009 championship. He scored the team’s first pole and race win in China and went on to take a further three victories en route to the runner-up spot in the driver standings, just 11 points shy of winner Jenson Button. He went one better in 2010. Despite not once having led the standings prior to the Abu Dhabi season finale, victory there – his fifth of the season – made him the youngest world champion in Formula One history.
In 2011 the Red Bull cars proved even more dominant with Vettel scoring 15 poles, 11 victories, and 17 podiums from 19 races winning his second consecutive title. Vettel remained at Red Bull for the 2012 season, and was again partnered by Mark Webber.
Beating back a strong challenge for Fernando Alonso driving a Ferrari he won his third consecutive championship by three points over the Spaniard. Vettel began to receive a smattering of criticism for the number of mistake he was making while driving a superior car. Vettel answered his critics on the track winning his fourth title.
On several occasions during the season, spectators booed Vettel. Although the booing was widely condemned by fellow drivers, the media and others in the paddock, Vettel revealed that it had a negative impact on him. Prior to the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull’s advisor Helmut Marko expressed his wish to extend Vettel’s contract for another two years to 2016. However, on 11 June 2013, Vettel agreed to a one-year contract extension with Red Bull until the end of the 2015 season.
In 2014 Vettel returned to earth. Facing a strong, self-confident teammate in Daniel Ricciardo and a car not quite to his liking he failed to win a race. In October , Red Bull Racing announced that Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the 2014 season, one year before his contract was due to expire.
The circumstances around Vettel’s departure from Red Bull have never been fully explained. The fact that he was being challenged by a new teammate, or the belief belief in some quarters that Vettel needs to switch to a different team and achieve success elsewhere to cement his status as a true great have been given as reasons but all have been denied by Vettel. It may just be that following Alonso at Ferrari and bringing the Scuderia the championship that the Spaniard never achieved may figure strongly in his thinking..
At Ferrari he would join the returning 2007 World Champion, Kimi Räikkönen for the 2015 season. Vettel scored his first win for Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix which was also the first win for Ferrari in almost two years. In total Vettel would win 3 races his first year at Ferrari.