The Reuters global sports blog
From the very first moment he arrived in Formula One as a curly-haired teenager, new world champion Sebastian Vettel was a young man in a hurry.
The 23-year-old Red Bull Driver, who became the youngest winner of the drivers’ championship with victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has set records from day one.
Within seconds of his debut in Friday practice at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, he had been fined for speeding in the pit lane. The youngest driver to take part in a practice session, in quick succession he became the youngest to score a point, youngest to secure pole position and youngest to win a grand prix.
Born in the same year that Red Bull sold their first can of energy drink, the race ace with the look of a tousled schoolboy and cheeky grin has always seemed a marketing match made in heaven for the newly crowned Formula One constructors’ champions.
Red Bull have gone out of their way to stress that they will not be handing out team orders at the decisive season-ending F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Oh no. They do say they “expect” Sebastian Vettel to help team mate Mark Webber win the title should the situation arise but will not be “ordering” him to do so.
This seems to be an important distinction in a sport where the phrase “team orders” carries with it a stigma equivalent to “professional foul” or “ungentlemanly conduct” in soccer.
If Bernie Ecclestone had got his way before the start of the season, Jenson Button might have been crowned Formula One champion in Singapore on Sunday.
The commercial supremo’s plan for the championship to be decided by an Olympic-style medals system, with the title going to the driver taking most golds, would have left Brawn’s Button out of reach.
Crashing a Formula One car is easy. Even I could do that, although fitting into the cockpit might be a bit of a squeeze. It’s the driving that is difficult.
In the old days, when there were fewer races in a season but more funerals, you crashed at your peril.
Just seeing Michael Schumacher back in an F1 car, especially a Ferrari, will be enough for most motor sport fans.
But the chance to watch him race against young guns Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel is something very special.
Last season’s champions are without any points after three races and Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, won by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.