FOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS, 53 wins, 122 podiums — Sebastian Vettel’s 16 years in Formula 1 was remarkable to say the least. He made waves as the youngest to ever bag the championship, and his dominance at the start of the decade turned people into both fans and critics.
Through the years, Seb has grown into one of the most respected and well-loved figures in the paddock.
As he leaves the sport behind, and shifts his focus towards family life and his advocacies, he hopes to be remembered not just for what he did on the track but for his character outside of it. In his words, “People can remember how many races and championships I’ve won but I’d rather be remembered that I’ve been kind, attentive and just me.”
The impact of his retirement would surely be felt once the next season starts. To look back on his great career, we hopped on over to the F1 Club of the Philippines Facebook group to ask about their fondest memories about Vettel, on and off the track. The response was overwhelming. Here are the five best.
“On track, it has to be his first win, Monza 2008. He didn’t just win - he dominated the entire race weekend in what was a true midfield car.” - Cholo
You never really forget your first, and Seb’s first win in F1 was a core memory for many of his fans. The wet qualifying session was an opportunity that his team, Toro Rosso, capitalized on and it was there he claimed his first pole and became the sport’s youngest polesitter. He then converted that pole into a win, and gave the team its maiden victory.
As the underdogs and part of the midfield, no one saw this coming. But it was certainly a preview of the dominance that Seb would display in the coming years.
“Winning the 'Grill the Grid' in 2021, lalo na yung pinangalan niya ang lahat ng mga F1 champions in descending order (from 2020 and down to 1950)” - Karen
Surprisingly, not a lot of drivers could name previous world champions. F1’s 2021 Grill the Grid finale proved this. However, if one man can do it then that would be none other than Sebastian Vettel.
In the video, he was able to name every single world champion. Yes, you read that right: He was able to identify the champions until 1950 when F1 turned into the championship that it is today. Best believed that the whole room was stunned at how Seb was able to do this, but fellow driver (and former teammate) Daniel Ricciardo predicted that Seb would guess it all. I guess that really is his image within the paddock: a driver with nothing but genuine love and passion for the sport. Check out his previous Grill the Grid interviews, and you’ll see what we mean.
“This  Indian GP moment, hands-down (pun intended). The atmosphere just gives me chills every time I rewatch it. I still have it as my wallpaper until today.” - Patrick
With three races left before the season ended, Sebastian Vettel clinched his final F1 championship and allowed Red Bull to defend not just their driver’s title but also the Constructor’s.
In true Seb dominance, this season saw him at his best: Tying Michael Schumacher’s record for 13 wins in a season, and winning 9 consecutive races. There was nothing that could stop him and his car, the RB9. To honor it, Seb bowed down and this led to one of the most iconic F1 photos which have been ingrained in fans’ memories.
“When he was cheering for Mick when he scored his first F1 points. It was also like a birthday gift to Seb because it happened on his birthday. The German brotherhood became a cycle (Seb idolizing Michael, Michael looking out for Seb and now it’s Seb who looks out for Mick) which is rare nowadays.” - Ishi
Seb has served as a mentor and somewhat of a father figure to the younger drivers, particularly Mick Schumacher. Their interactions have always been admired by fans as it is reminiscent of how Mick’s dad, the great Michael Schumacher, guided Seb when he was starting out.
Apart from this, another Seb memory stood out and it was recalled by his former Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc. In a tribute video prepared by the F1 media team, Charles recalled how when he was still in Formula 2, Seb wrote him a letter to thank him for his work on the simulator. This meant so much for him that a 4-time champion recognized his effort and even took the time to write his appreciation. Truly a class act like no other!
“Became a fan after Multi 21. The character development after... damn!” - Karl
At the peak of his dominance, Seb was considered by most fans as, for lack of a better term, a ruthless and determined competitor. Does the Multi 21 incident ring a bell?
Since then, he has gone from a “villain-like” persona to a hero who champions not just for the sport but for advocacies beyond it. Some of the issues that he fights for are the climate crisis (particularly F1’s response to it) and equality for all sectors (most especially the LGBTQ+ community). His efforts in fighting for change have been commended by both fans and non-fans alike, and have made the love for Seb grow even more.
There’s really so much more that we wish we could fit in this article, but at the core of it all, one thing stands true: Sebastian Vettel is a name that would forever be remembered within and beyond the world of motorsport.
As a play on his 2016 Canadian GP interview, all we need to say is: “Everyone’s a Vettel fan. Even if they say they’re not, they are Vettel fans.” Danke Seb! Enjoy your retirement, du bist weltmeister.