Rodger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Usain Bolt, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Stephen Hendry: what do these names have in common?
They are all considered one of the all-time greats in their respective sports.
The German, who drives for Red Bull Racing, wrapped up his fourth consecutive World Championship after winning his sixth race in a row.
He joins the exclusive club of Alan Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by winning his fourth title and at 26 is the youngest driver in history to do so.
There are three races left of the current F1 season (Abu Dhabi, the United States and Brazil) , and if Vettel were to win these he would replicate a record set by Italian driver Alberto Ascari during the 1952-53 season.
Nevertheless, he still has some way to go before replicating Schumacher’s feat of 7 world titles.
That said, for all his successes there are many people who believe the German’s dominance could bore fans and hinder F1.
Hamilton admitted he stopped watching races during Michael Schumacher’s period of dominance and worries Vettel will have the same effect on current fans:
“I remember waking up to watch the start of the race then going to sleep and waking up when it ended because I knew what would happen.”
There is no doubt Vettel is making it extremely difficult for other drivers to win, as he has won 10 out of 16 races this season.
However, there is definitely a case to say a true champion like Vettel is good for a sport. It may mean a more predictable outcome, but it can also put that sport (back) on the map.
Look at Usain Bolt, amidst all the drug scandals in track & field sprinting he has remained at the top and restored many people’s faith in athletics.
Similarly, you have the likes of Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal who are global sporting icons. They may have dominated men’s tennis, but have only been beneficial for the sport.
In essence, having a household name or a true champion can allow new people to drift towards sports they have never watched before as they want to know what all the fuss is about.
Furthermore, I think it is massively disrespectful to the other F1 drivers, a significant number of whom are former world champions, to suggest that Vettel will automatically waltz his way to a fifth title next season.
The move of 2007 champion Kimi Räikkönen from Lotus to Ferrari alone is intriguing, as many will agree this gives the man from Finland a much better car to challenge from.
Not only that, but there are changes to the rules for the 2014 F1 season that could play a major role in deciding who is victorious.
This includes, naming a few: a change in engine formula (the return of turbocharged engines), a requirement for lower noses on cars and an increase in the minimum weight of cars.
With changes like this it is hard to tell which manufacturer will come out on top and get it right next year.
At the end of the day, if Sebastian Vettel is driving a poor car then there is a good chance we will see somebody else pick up the F1 World Driver’s Championship (although I would not bet against Vettel!)