Thursday, November 18, 2010
Under the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu-Dhabi’s floodlights, German driver Sebastian Vettel added a new Formula One record to his list as youngest winner of the championship at 23 years. On Saturday, Vettel took the title at the final race of this year’s competition.
Starting from pole position, the Red Bull Racing driver led the race right through except during pit stops, when reigning world champion Jenson Button led for a few laps.
Championship leader Fernando Alonso started the race 11 points ahead of Mark Webber. With 25 points for a win, 18 for second and 15 for third, the Spaniard only needed to finish second to secure his third world championship. With a 15-point lag behind Alonso, Sebastian Vettel was third in the championship standings; winning the championship depended on neither Alonso nor Webber finishing on the podium.
A major accident between Michael Schumacher and Vintantonio Liuzzi on the first lap of the race triggered deployment of the safety car. Alonso and Webber were among drivers who decided to make earlier than planned pit stops while racing was resricted. However, they rejoined the track behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov, who proved extremely difficult to overtake. Both remained stuck behind Petrov for the remainder of the race, finishing 7th and 8th respectively to score 6 and 4 points.
Sebastian Vettel went on to win the race ahead of the two McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, scoring 25 championship points to give a total of 256 – only 4 ahead of Alonso.
Vettel had never previously led this year’s contest. He had to wait until championship favorites Alonso and Webber crossed the finish line in 7th and 8th positions respectively before receiving the news by team radio. With his voice breaking among tears and laughter, Vettel thanked his team for their efforts throughout the season. He won five races from ten pole positions.
Since the start of his F1 career, Vettel’s name has repeatedly entered record books.
In 2007, he replaced an injured Robert Kubica in the United States Grand Prix. Finishing 8th and collecting one championship point; this his first record was youngest driver to score a point in F1.
In 2008, Vettel had the opportunity to race for a full season with Toro Rosso, winning what remains that team’s only race victory. At the Italian Grand Prix, he became the youngest driver to qualify in pole position and youngest race winner.
In 2009, he moved to Red Bull Racing, scoring that team’s first pole position and first race victory. He went on to finish second in the world championship.