Former Scuderia Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger admitted that he always knew Sebastian Vettel would be successful due to his attitude to learning at such a young age. The four-time Formula One world champion was taken on by the Red Bull junior programme in 1998 at the tender age of 11 and swiftly arrived at Toro Rosso in 2007, replacing Scott Speed at the Hungarian Grand Prix after subbing for the injured Robert Kubica in Canada for BMW.
Gerhard Berger was a 50% stakeholder in Toro Rosso at the time and was taken aback by Vettel’s attitude toward learning more about his craft during his time at the team against his two predecessors in Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi. The 10-time Grand Prix winner oversaw the now four-time world champion storm to his first Grand Prix win at Toro Rosso during the sodden weekend of the 2008 Italian Grand Prix where he also took pole position in the same conditions.
When asked by Tom Clarkson, host of the F1 podcast if he felt Sebastian would always achieve something in F1, Gerhard Berger said: “Yes, absolutely. When he came to us, he was 18 or 19 years old and his brain worked like a 30-year-old. I experienced the two guys before, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed and when they talk to you, especially Scott Speed look to you to say; What are you talking about!? They didn’t have a clue what experience 210 Grand Prix brings with you and which experience you can transfer to them. Vettel was completely different, he sucks out everything out from you, he filtered it, the good things he took and the bad things he put on the side and he just put in race by race into the ground. So the guy was just very grown up when he arrived with us, you could see if his package is right, he is going to be a successful driver.” – former Scuderia Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger concluded.