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Sebastian Vettel
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Sebastian Vettel :heart: (born July 3rd, 1987 in Heppenheim) is a German Formula 1 driver. He is currently contracted to the Scuderia Torro Rosso Formula 1 team alongside Sebastian Bourdais after replacing Scott Speed on July 31st, 2007. He is replacing David Coulthard at Red Bull Racing at the start of the 2009 Season. He had been the third (test and reserve) driver for the BMW Sauber Formula 1 team from the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix onwards. By taking part in Friday practice for the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel became the youngest ever Formula One driver to drive at a Grand Prix meeting, at 19 years and 53 days. On Sunday September 30th, 2007, during the Japanese Grand Prix Vettel became the youngest driver to lead a race in Formula One history. He also became the quickest driver to get a fine in F1, being fined $1,000 nine seconds into his career, after speeding in the pitlane. He also became the sixth youngest driver to start a Grand Prix, the youngest driver to score points in a Grand Prix and lead a Grand Prix.

Formula 1

Following the serious crash of regular BMW driver Robert Kubica in Canada, Vettel substituted for him at the US Grand Prix and started in seventh position on the grid, finishing in 8th position, thanks to Nico Rosberg's late retirement, to take his first F1 World Championship point and became the youngest driver ever to score a point in Formula One (at the age of 19 years and 349 days), a record previously held by Jenson Button.

On July 31st, 2007, BMW released Vettel to join Red Bull's Schuderia Torro Rosso team, replacing Scott Speed as race driver as of the Hungarian Grand Prix. He earned approximately $165,000 for finishing the season with Toro Rosso Before the Hungarian GP, it was also announced that Vettel would drive for STR in 2008. His team-mate would be Sebastian Bourdais.

Vettel struggled to keep up with Liuzzi's pace at Budapest, Istanbul, Monza and Spa, and never managed to progress amongst the lower-midfield pack (Toyota, Honda, Toro Rosso, Super Aguri). In the rain-hit Japaneese Grand Prix at Fuji, Vettel worked his way up to third behind Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber, and seemed to be on course for not only his but also Toro Rosso's maiden podium finish. However, Vettel crashed into Webber under safety car conditions taking them both out of the race. However, he bounced back to finish a career-best fourth a week later at the Chinses GP having started 17th in mixed conditions. He collected five championship points, making it both his and Toro Rosso's best race result. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz believes Vettel will be one of Formula One's big stars in the future. "Vettel is one of the young guys with extraordinary potential. He is fast, he is intelligent, and he is very interested in the technical side."

According to some sources, at the end of the 2007 season Vettel was contacted by McLaren Mercedes in order to replace Spanish two-time world champion Fernando Alonso that left the British team for Renault in the same period. The talks between McLaren chief Ron Dennis and Dietrich Mateschit failed however, the Red Bull boss refusing a multi million Euro deal for the young German driver. After four races of the 2008 F1 Season Vettel was the only driver to have failed to finish a single race, having retired on the first lap in three of them. In each of these three instances, he was involved in accidents caused by other drivers. However, at the fifth round in Turkey, he finally saw the chequered flag, finishing 17th after qualifying 14th. In the next race at Monaco, Vettel scored his first points of the 2008 Season with a fifth place finish, mainly due to the changing conditions. Vettel also benefitted from the downfall of other drivers, such as Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalianen.

The Red Bull team were understood to have an option on Vettel's services for the 2009 season depending on the team's performance. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschit said in July 2007: "There are contracts in place, and if we perform, he will be back with us in 2009". Vettel was confirmed as a Red Bull Racing driver for 2009 in the week leading up to the 2008 German GP , following the earlier announcement of David Coulthard's retirement at the end of 2008.

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Vettel hits back at Webber

Sebastian Vettel has hit back at Mark Webber's claim that Red Bull are emotionally favouring the young German.

Webber on Friday suggested his tilt at the Formula One title this year had been "inconvenient" to Red Bull.

Team principal Christian Horner dismissed Webber's comments, insisting the Australian had received the team's full support.

It prompted what appeared to be a heart-to-heart between the two men on Friday night outside the team's hospitality unit in the paddock at Interlagos, with Webber in particular quite animated.

Now Vettel has had his say, notably via one comment aired on German television station RTL in which he said: "If Mark needs help then he should take the medical car."

It further underlines the divide which exists between the drivers and seems a clear indicator that Vettel will not aid Webber's cause at any stage.

Asked specifically if he felt the team were emotionally rooting for him, Vettel said: "No. Obviously a lot of things have been said or written.

"Everyone has his own opinion, but for me we both have the same chance every weekend to do well.

"The team supplies us with a very good car and that's ultimately the situation that you want to be in, having a car where you can win races and fight for podiums.

"Mark has been in Formula One much longer than I, but I remember my time three years ago, I was dreaming of being a guy able to finish on the podium, able to win races.

"I'm enjoying a lot what I'm doing and I'm very proud and happy to be in the position I am now, and happy to be in a team like I am."

Vettel also feels he has had the rougher ride this year in terms of mechanical issues.

He suffered a spark plug problem that dropped him from first to fourth in Bahrain, a wheel failure that pitched him into the gravel in Australia when he was leading and a blown engine while also leading in Korea in the last race.

It was also Vettel who came off worse when he and Webber collided in Turkey, as he retired while his team-mate managed to keep going after spinning off, eventually finishing third.

"I think I've had lots of ups and downs this year, but if something has broken then it has tended to break on my car," Vettel added.

"But do I think there is any conspiracy in the air? No, it's the last thing I think about.

"I always approach things by thinking there is a reason something has happened.

"If it does I speak to Christian, I speak to Dietrich (Mateschitz), the people responsible for our team.

"If something is not right, not happening the way I feel it should, then I say something. That's what everyone does.

"I am who I am and I always say what I think. Sometimes I might hold back on my opinion because I think it's the smarter way.

"But I'm the last guy to cause conflict when it's not necessary."

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Vettel and Webber the men to beat

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will again be the men to beat in the Brazilian Grand Prix after another dominant day of practice.

Vettel and Webber have locked out the front row of the grid at each of the last two races in Japan and Korea following qualifying, and they look poised for a hat-trick at Interlagos on Sunday.

However, there may yet be a fly in their ointment as heavy rain is being forecast which could turn the formbook upside down.

But on a day of dry running, with afternoon temperatures hitting 30 degrees centigrade, it was Vettel who again led the way, with team- mate Webber forced to settle for second best.

After finishing just under half-a-second clear of Webber at the end of the morning's 90-minute session, Vettel saw that gap cut to just over a 10th of a second later on.

The 23-year-old German, in desperate need of a victory to ensure he remains in the hunt for the title going into next weekend's closing race in Abu Dhabi, posted his fastest lap in the afternoon with one minute 11.968secs.

Around the 4.309km circuit, the second shortest on the calendar behind Monaco, Webber was a mere 0.104secs adrift, with Fernando Alonso third.

It is understood championship leader Alonso is currently walking a tightrope as the suggestion is he is on his final engine that has already run a number of miles.

Ferrari have been desperately attempting to manage the engine situation with Alonso's car as he used up his permitted eight for the season some time ago.

Since then they have been swapping and changing engines, trying to extend their life, only for one to give way in the dying moments of first practice.

It was evident, however, they were already aware of the situation as they admitted just as practice started they would be changing it anyway given the lack of life left in it.

Alonso managed 36 laps in the afternoon, finishing 0.360secs down on Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton fourth in his McLaren, sandwiching the Ferraris as Felipe Massa was fifth.

But in a further blow to the Maranello marque, Massa stopped at the same place as Alonso had done earlier 30 minutes from the end of the second session with a suspected hydraulics issue.

Renault's Robert Kubica was sixth, followed by reigning champion Jenson Button in his McLaren, the Briton 1.238secs off the pace and apparently struggling with rear wing issues.

Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was a creditable eighth, with the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher ninth and 10th.

Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who crashed into a tyre barrier in the morning, was 15th following sterling work from his engineers to ready his car again during the two and a half hours between runs.

Virgin's Timo Glock brought up the rear, a coup for Hispania who normally find themselves in such a position.

Instead, Bruno Senna and Christian Klien were 22nd and 23rd, but with the bottom trio all just over four seconds behind Vettel.

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