On this day in 2011: Sebastian Vettel won the Formula One drivers’ championship

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Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the Formula One drivers’ championship for the second time on this day in 2011 after finishing third at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The German had claimed his first title 12 months earlier in stunning fashion in what was only his third full season in F1.

Eager to continue his dominance, Vettel moved through the gears in 2011 and secured another championship in the 15th round at Suzuka, with four more races left.

After he delivered a ninth win of the year at Singapore two weeks before, only a single point was required in Japan – and despite relinquishing pole position, Vettel steered his Red Bull home in third to make more history.

Vettel became the youngest driver, aged 24 and 98 days, to win double championships, eclipsing Fernando Alonso.

The German would clinch championship glory twice more over the next two seasons – including a record-breaking 2013 campaign where he won nine consecutive races – to take his overall tally for the year to 13 victories, which equalled Michael Schumacher mark in 2004.

After watching his compatriot set the standard growing up, the allure of racing in the red of Ferrari was too much to turn down, as Vettel signed for the Italian manufacturer ahead of the 2015 championship.

It did not, though, prove a happy marriage.

Vettel placed third in his first season in the new car, winning three races. However, the 2016 campaign would end without a victory despite seven podium finishes as he finished fourth.

Title challenges failed to bring reward in both 2017 and 2018, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton able to wipe out a deficit to Vettel to seal the drivers’ championship both times.

Vettel finished outside the top three in 2019 and Ferrari announced there would be no contract extension past the end of the 2020 season, which was was postponed until July then reduced to 17 races because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The German went on to drive for Aston Martin in 2021, finishing second at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.

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