COMMENTARY | I did not witness the Michael Schumacher era.
In fact, I did not witness any of the greatest moments, drivers or races in the long and storied history of Formula 1.
But in the few short years I have been turned on to the world's most spectacular motorsport, I have learned one very important thing -- Sebastian Vettel is the greatest racecar driver in the world. Period. End of discussion.
Say what you will about the equipment, and there is no denying that Infiniti Red Bull has an almost superhuman racing program, one light years ahead of the competition. Say what you will about the competition itself, the sport, the tires or any other argument you might come up with to downplay what the German has done over the past four years, but nothing is going to shake the belief that Vettel is in a league of his own in the world of motor-driven sport.
Vettel's four consecutive championships is astonishing. Only two other drivers in the history of the sport -- Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio -- have done it. His 11 season wins this season, including seven straight, is mind-blowing. But the amazing part is, he isn't slowing down. Not in the slightest. With only a few races remaining and the championship well in hand, Vettel went out and led every single lap on his way to the win at the most recent race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Now Vettel sets his sights on another mark that will place him even higher in the upper echelons of Formula 1 racing -- 13 wins in one season.
Schumacher did it 2004 and now the 26-year-old Vettel will have an opportunity to equal that mark with races remaining in the U.S. and Brazil to close out the year. Vettel finished second at the Circuit of the Americas in the debut event in 2012 and Vettel has one career win in Sau Paulo.
Regardless of how he does over the final two races of the 2013, what Vettel has done thus far in his career is already the stuff of legend.
For his career, Vettel has 37 wins. He also has 60 podiums, 43 pole positions and the aforementioned four-consecutive championships. This season Vettel has already racked up 347 points through 18 races, 130 markers ahead of second-place Fernando Alonso.
During his streak of seven consecutive wins, Vettel has led 319 of a possible 381 laps, including leading the race from start to finish four times.
And it is important to point out, once again, that the young man is only 26 years old. Schumacher didn't win his first title until the age of 25.
And while Vettel is certainly making it look easy, he argues that what he and his team are doing is far from simple.
"People tend to call it domination. But I don't like the word because it makes things sound easy," Vettel said in a recent interview. "If you look back at every single race, it has been hard work for every minute. Maybe for other people it lacks excitement, but not yourself because you know how much hard work has been put in, along with everybody at the factory. Everybody knows how hard it has been to get the car where it is now and to score the points we have."
Vettel already has a whole host of Formula 1 records to himself and he is just getting started. After all, this is only his seventh full-time season at the sports top level.
I may be new to Formula 1, but I know history in the making when I see it. He is already one of the greats, will Vettel go down as the single greatest driver in Formula 1 history?
I, for one, can't wait to watch as he tries.
L.A. Crum is a motorsports writer from Ohio. He is an avid fan of all things racing and college athletics and has worked with many of the top teams and drivers in the racing industry during his career. He is a proud graduate of Marshall University.
- Sports & Recreation
- Motor Racing
- Sebastian Vettel
- Formula 1 racing
- Michael Schumacher