Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2012:
4: Sebastian Vettel
July 3, 1987
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull-Renault RB8
Crash.net F1 Driver of 2011 position:
It was three titles in three years for Sebastian Vettel, but the German was made to work hard for his hat-trick – and even that effort wasn't enough to raise him higher than fourth in the Crash.net
Losing the blown diffuser technology that helped make it nigh on invincible in 2011, Red Bull was just one of several frontrunners in 2012, and Vettel didn't stand on the top step of the podium until round four in Bahrain. Robbed of victory number two in Valencia, he then had to wait until the season-ending 'flyaways' to return to winning ways, but a four-race sweep from Singapore to India put him in control of the title fight, taking advantage of Fernando Alonso's first lap exit in Japan to slash the Spaniard's points lead before assuming top spot in Yeongam.
Alternators caused Vettel's two DNFs, the second costing him a podium finish at Monza, while a clash with Narain Karthikeyan in Malaysia caused him to miss out on points in round two, and prompted the memorable 'cucumber' insult directed at the Indian. Vettel, however, disproved the 'can't overtake' myth that surrounds him by coming from the back in both Abu Dhabi – following a miscalculation on fuel that stranded him on track in qualifying - and Brazil, where he was spun around on lap one, to secure the results he needed for title number three.
The 'clarification' sought by Ferrari into one of his passing moves at Interlagos washed over the German, who remained confident that he had seen the green flag that legitimised his move on Jean-Eric Vergne, and never doubted that the crown would remain firmly on his head.
The youngest to achieve a championship hat-trick, Vettel finds himself in illustrious company by winning three straight, joining Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in a club of three, and other icons such as Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Sir Jack Brabham as three-time champions.
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2012 results so far:
5. Jenson Button
6. Nico Hulkenberg
7. Mark Webber
8. Sergio Perez
9. Felipe Massa
10. Kamui Kobayashi