Sebastian Vettel won his second World F1 drivers championship today, and although only taking third place in the Japanese Grand Prix, he is still on track for the most dominant season in F1 history.
His third place at Suzuka gave him 324 of the 375 points on offer - a stunning 86.4% of available points and still ahead of Michael Schumacher's best during his reign with Ferrari. Like most other records in F1, Vettel is once again the youngest to achieve the feat.
For Red Bull Racing, it's the team's second drivers title and it is closing in on the constructors title with a lead of 130 points and just four races to go. Perhaps more ominously, the team it has assembled, and the relationship with both Infiniti and engine-suppliers Renault looks more than capable of sustaining the success.
Since the beginning of the season, Vettel's results in the world's most important auto race series have been first, first, second, first, first, first, second, first, second, fourth, second, first, first, first and third. That's not bad for someone who has yet to have their 25th birthday. Presumably, the best is yet to come.
July 3, 1987 is not all that long ago - it's the day that two-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel was born and his remarkable achievements for such a tender age are already legend.
At the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest ever Formula One driver when he drove the third BMW Sauber car in practice and remarkably set the fastest time of the day, becoming the youngest ever driver to set fastest lap in an official F1 session - he was 19 years and 53 days old.
The following year at the 2007 US Grand Prix, he took eighth place in the BMW and in so doing became the youngest driver ever to claim championship points.
Later that year in the Japanese Grand Prix, he became the youngest driver to ever lead a Formula One race at 20 years, 89 days.
After a disastrous start to the 2008 season in the Scuderia Toro Rosso car, Vettel had the first weekend that really had everyone taking notice at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
The first of many stellar weekends for the young German appropriately occurred at the sole remaining spiritual home circuit on the Grand Prix calendar, Monza.
If the Gods of Motorsport were to convene, it would be at Monza. Strange things happen there.
When McLaren looked likely to sweep all the wins in the 1988 F1 season, a bizarre accident at Monza cost Ayrton Senna a certain win and turned up an unlikely Ferrari victory.
Enzo Ferrari had died just a few weeks earlier and the two events will be forever linked in the superstitious world of motorsport. Despite being the most visible competition for applied technology in the world, auto racing is also a place where favorite socks/jocks, routines and unjustified belief in supernatural causation remain commonplace.
Vettel arrived at Monza in 2008 with a Toro Rosso car that was not competitive. In the rain though, Vettel's extraordinary natural talent more than made enough difference on the fast Monza circuit where cars spend a lot of time carrying large g-forces.
A varying track during qualifying saw many of the big names eliminated - the Hondas of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello went in the first cut, while Coulthard (Red Bull Renault), Räikkönen (Ferrari) and Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) also didn't make the final ten.
In wet conditions, just 72 days after his 21st birthday, Vettel became the youngest person to take pole position in the history of Formula One.
The following day, Vettel became Formula One's youngest ever winner - indeed, he was also the youngest ever driver to stand on the podium in any position.
A look through the list of Formula One records indicates there are few achievements he hasn't claimed as the youngest, and a massive list of all-time record achievements in which he already features on the top 10 leaderboard. Barring accident, he will almost certainly take a swag more records before this year is over.
You can have all the marketing brains in the world, but there is no ingredient more essential to the equation than winning - Tiger Woods at one stage looked the sportsperson most likely to earn a billion dollars in a year from sport, and now the odds would favor Vettel. He has a clear decade, maybe more, in front of him as potentially the most successful sportsperson in the world's most watched TV sport.
The success of the Red Bull-Renault-Infiniti triumvirate involves many complex variables, but appears sustainable in that all of the important parameters have success engineered in.
Red Bull owner Deiter Mateschitz has gathered an awesome team of people to Red Bull Racing apart from the prodigiously talented Vettel - primarily engineer Adrian Newey and Team Principal Christian Horner - but the all-round team is currently state-of-the-art, and it has the world's best driver behind the steering wheel.
As with Red Bull, Renault-Nissan-Infiniti and Red Bull Racing, it is the assembly of complex systems into a living sustainable business organism which characterizes the success, but at the end of the day, you need a winning driver to do the business when it counts, and at 24 years of age, that driver for the foreseeable future looks like being Sebastian Vettel.
Sincerest congratulations to all involved - truly deserved!
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