‘I won’t be nervous!’: Sebastian Vettel’s father breaks silence on his retirement

Sebastian Vettel made his F1 debut at the 2007 United States GP, after replacing an injured Robert Kubica at BMW Sauber.

Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 career is certainly one for the history books, with it being highly likely that his time at the pinnacle of motorsport will be looked back upon for years to come.

The imperious German was an incredible driver, who claimed four consecutive Drivers’ Championships during 2010-2013, whilst racing for Red Bull.

He was simply addicted to winning, something he did 53 times in his 16-year career, with the first of the lot having come during his rookie season at a wet Italian Grand Prix in 2008.

It was whilst racing for Toro Rosso (known now as AlphaTauri) that he made his name known, with the world having been given a small taste of his talent briefly in 2007.

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After Robert Kubica crashed terrifyingly at the Canadian Grand Prix that year, Vettel was called up to replace the Polish driver at the United States Grand Prix, where he made his F1 debut.

Similar to how Nyck de Vries excelled at the Italian GP this year after standing in for Alex Albon, Vettel excelled.

The German claimed P8 in the race for BMW Sauber, meaning he claimed the final points position.

It was a stellar performance and one that saw him promoted to Toro Rosso in 2008, before quickly moving to Red Bull in 2009.

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Throughout his career, Vettel was almost unbeatable in two areas; the first of those was an incredible ability to always out-brake his opponent, something he seemingly learnt when he started karting, as revealed by his father Norbert Vettel.

“He was small, so I added some material to the pedals so he could reach the throttle and the brake,” Norbert told F1.com.

“We had to pad the seat out, too, as the seat was just too big. We marked out a track with a hairpin near where I worked. I stood at the side of the track, before the hairpin, to mark out where Sebastian needed to brake. That was the first thing he learned – braking points.”

The second ability of Vettel’s that was virtually unbeatable was the speed and control he carried when driving in the wet, the conditions he won his first race in.

Norbert explained that his son was “fascinated” by driving in wet conditions from the very start of his racing career, with the former Aston Martin driver having regularly refused to stop driving “for lunch”.

“Sebastian loved to drive in the wet,” said Norbert.

“I asked him to come inside for lunch and to let his sister drive the kart while he was eating, but he said, ‘No, I’ll stay here.’ He wouldn’t get out. He just wanted to keep trying, keep learning. He was fascinated.”

Vettel went on to claim several junior titles on his way to making his shock F1 debut, something which seemingly his family weren’t expecting at Indianapolis in 2007.

Norbert recalled how Sebastian called him late at night to quickly fly to Indianapolis as he was going to replace Kubica, something he rapidly did whilst feeling “nervous”.

He continued that has “felt nervous” every session for the past 16 years, a feeling he won’t have in 2023!

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“I said okay – and I started ringing around for flights,” recalled Norbert, “I left at 6am and flew to Amsterdam. And then to Detroit. And then to Indianapolis. And I made it there late at night. It was crazy, but I made it.

“Seeing Sebastian get into his overalls, and step into the cockpit for the first time, I felt nervous. I’m always nervous, whether it’s testing, practice, qualifying or the race. I’m nervous.

“If I’m not at the track, I’m following every session, either watching the TV or listening to the radio or if I can’t get either of those, I just follow the live timing, looking at every lap Sebastian does. I’m always nervous for him. Next year, I won’t be nervous!”