As Sebastian Vettel turns 32, we look back at 4 of his finest moments with Ferrari:
1. Malaysia 2015
A historic day for Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. In just his second race for the Maranello based team, the German claimed the victory against the raging hot favourites Mercedes at a sweltering Sepang circuit four years ago. The signs of a strong weekend for the four-time world champion were already there in qualifying when he split the Mercedes car to line-up second on the grid after a wet Q3.
He remained 2nd at the start and tracked Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the Grand Prix as the Mercedes was struggling with tyres in the searing Malaysian heat. A safety car on lap four would change the face of the race completely. Both Mercedes’ were put on the hard tyres – but Vettel stayed out on his mediums from the start of the race as Hamilton rejoined back in P6. From there on in, Hamilton was playing catch up to his German rival. He never did it. Seb even had the pleasure of passing Rosberg after he made his first stop and would have made an easy pass on Hamilton as well if the Brit didn’t go into the pits as the German driver got alongside him.
On a day where Ferrari was kinder on its tyres and a driver on top form, Sebastian Vettel put in a masterclass on a two-stop strategy vs the Mercedes’ on three-stops. It was a well-deserved win and the first with the Scuderia for Seb.
2. Australia 2017
After failing to win for around 18 months, Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel announced themselves as serious contenders to Mercedes with a highly impressive victory at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix.
In fairness, this race is hardly the most exciting on the list, but Seb’s performance can’t be questioned as he won by almost 10 seconds. After qualifying second, the German driver maintained his composure as he was unable to pass Hamilton in the opening laps. Strategy would end up being the difference as he was able to jump Hamilton in the pits and extend his lead as the race went on.
3. Bahrain 2018
Last year was Sebastian Vettel’s 200th start in Formula One. Ironically, he had a DNS in Bahrain in 2016 which meant he reached 200 starts at the Sakhir circuit two seasons later. This was probably the German’s best win in his time with the famous Italian squad.
Qualifying was close as he shaded team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to take pole position – but the hard work came in the closing stages of the night race. A good start saw him out the front ahead of Bottas and his Finnish team-mate. Split strategies then came into the equation. Scuderia Ferrari pitted him on lap 18 and they fitted the soft tyre; while at Mercedes they put the more durable medium compound on Bottas’ car. Mercedes going for the mediums meant the German had no choice but to try and manage the soft tyre to the end of the race. It would require him to do 39 laps on the soft tyre when Pirelli had said 30 laps on that tyre would be the limit. Not surprisingly, Bottas started to take lots of time out of Sebastian Vettel in the last 10 laps to cut the gap from 5 seconds to get within DRS on the final 3 laps.
Somehow, Sebastian managed to hold on. Only at turn one on the commencement of the final lap did the Finn get anywhere near him to have a look – but he didn’t have a go. It was an incredible demonstration of tyre management and how to control the pace at the front from Sebastian as he fended off the challenge of Bottas and the mighty W09. It was a phenomenal victory on a special milestone for the four-time World Champion.
4. British GP 2018
On a dramatic afternoon at Silverstone, which featured two Safety Car deployments and countless track controversies, Sebastian Vettel (nursing a neck injury) took victory over Lewis Hamilton. A fast-starting Sebastian Vettel had already taken the lead off pole-sitter Hamilton into the first corner before Kimi Raikkonen locked up and hit the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes into Turn Three.
In the second part of the race, the Safety Car was redeployed twice. After the first Safety Car, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen all used the delay to make a stop for fresh soft tyres, whilst Bottas and Hamilton – who had no fresh sets of softs left – stayed out, taking first and third respectively. That left the stage set for an epic ten-lap shootout to the line between Vettel, Bottas, Hamilton and Raikkonen while Ricciardo chased down Verstappen.
After some bare-knuckle wheel-to-wheel action between the lead Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel finally found a way through Bottas’ defences at Brooklands (his favourite spot to attack) with five laps to go. Seb held on to take his first British Grand Prix win in nine years, his 51st victory in Formula 1 – drawing level with Alain Prost.