Nobody made Vettel. I certainly did not make him! He made himself. But at the 2008 European GP, in Valencia, something significant happened. Sebastian was driving for us that year, of course, and it was a funny weekend. There were a few new things on the car and the circuit was new for everybody.
I believed it was fundamental that Sebastian learned the circuit, more than anything else. In morning practice, he was the fastest driver, for the first time. Then in the afternoon I noticed a lap which was extraordinary: with worn tyres and a heavy fuel load, he was still extremely fast.
When we spoke about the lap and looked at the data he wasn't quite sure how he had done this, so I told him to go away and think about it.
Then the next day, Saturday, he came in and we chatted and he told me “I know what I did.” But I didn't ask him exactly what that was. That's for him to know. It's his secret of being fast, if you like. I just wanted him to think about the process of his driving and register it, mentally.
Something else that we gave him as a team, was that we gave him our complete trust when he came to us and that enabled him to trust us, too.
His first race for us was at the Hungarian GP, and that's not an easy track. He made a mistake in qualifying and immediately said, “I made a mistake.” Normally the racing driver's book of excuses is longer than War and Peace, so this was refreshing.
In general I don't find it hard to be unpleasant, but it was hard to be unpleasant to Sebastian. And he was always thinking, which allowed for a discussion about performance and not an argument.
Dr Mario 'Team Boss' Theissen
Head of BMW
When Sebastian was with us as a Formula One test driver in 2006, it was clear he needed time to develop. He had been with us in 2003 and 2004, racing in Formula BMW, where he already showed outstanding talent. He won 18 out of 20 races in his second season and, in total, he was on the podium 32 times, won 23 races and took 20 pole positions. In 2004 he won 14 races in a row. All that remains unequalled to this day.
But as well as a racing car we also gave him a broad-based training programme that went well beyond working together with the engineers, to include aspects such as technology, nutrition, fitness and media work. His ability to put these tools to use can be seen every day now in Formula One.
He made his debut as a Friday test driver with us at the age of 19, becoming the youngest ever F1 driver. In his first race at Indianapolis in 2007, still aged just 19, he scored a point and not much more than a year later, he won his first grand prix. It was amazing what he achieved in such a short time and it made me very happy for my partners at BMW
and Scuderia Toro Rosso, Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost.
Riccardo 'Guiding Hand' Adami
Scuderia Toro Rosso