Not many athletes manage to cement themselves as legends of the sport they compete in before the age of 30. But then again, Sebastian Vettel is no ordinary sportsman. The 29-year-old, lovingly nicknamed 'Il Dito' due to his trademark finger celebration, is a four-time Formula 1 world champion currently living out his boyhood dream, driving for Ferrari and following the footsteps of his idol Michael Schumacher.
The success may have dried up in recent years and his future with the Italian manufacturers is a tad uncertain, but 'Baby Schumi' has already achieved more in his career than most of his peers on the grid can dream of.
Who is Sebastian Vettel?
Born on 3 July 1987 in Heppenheim, Germany, Vettel's penchant for racing came to light at the age of three, when he started amateur karting. He began racing competitively at the age of eight and his talents were soon spotted by Red Bull, who drafted him into their junior team in 1998.
He enjoyed constant success as part of Red Bull's junior squad and in 2006 he was promoted to test driver for BMW Sauber, before being called up to Formula One action permanently in 2007. BMW allowed their young prodigy to join Toro Rosso later that year.
He already had a few F1 cameos under his belt and enjoyed a bright and rather eventful to start to life as a fully-fledged driver, finishing the 2008 season eighth and winning the Rookie of the Year award. He joined Red Bull ahead of the 2009 season. The rest. as they say, is history.
- Became the youngest driver to participate in a Grand Prix weekend with BMW Sauber (19 years, 53 days.)
- Won the Italian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso in 2008 before joining Red Bull in 2009.
- Became youngest Grand Prix driver to win races for two different teams when he emerged victorious in China for Red Bull aged 21 years, 278 days.
- Finished second in the race for the championship in 2009 before going one better in 2010.
- He became the youngest champion in F1 history and helped Red Bull to their first world constructors' championship in 2010.
- Finished 2011 season as champion with a record total of 392 points.
- Became only the third driver to win three consecutive championship in 2012.
- Won his fourth championship in 2013 before leaving Red Bull to fulfil his lifelong dream of driving for Ferrari.
What is Sebastian Vettel's net worth?
Vettel is believed to have a net worth of $55m (£43.9m). A large portion of the driver's wealth presumably stems from his contract with Ferrari, which is reportedly worth a whopping £25m a year, excluding bonuses.
His contract is one of the most lucrative in the sport but he is not the highest-paid driver on the grid. Lewis Hamilton's deal with Mercedes is believed to be worth just over £30m a year.
Why did Sebastian Vettel leave Red Bull for Ferrari?
Vettel left Red Bull at a time when teammate Daniel Ricciardo was outperforming him on the circuit, but the German insisted the Australian's form had no bearing on his decision to seek pastures new after 15 years. He stressed that he made the decision in order to 'start a new chapter' in his already illustrious career.
"It is definitely a very tough decision," Vettel told Sky Sports in 2014. "After 15 years with Red Bull I am moving out and you usually do that just once in your life, so you can imagine that for sure it is a tough day and a tough decision.
"I am leaving a very, very happy place, which is why it is always difficult, but at some point in your life I think you feel that you want to do something new and something different. That feeling has kept growing and led me to decide to leave Red Bull and go and start a new chapter."
Who is Sebastian Vettel's girlfriend?
Vettel is currently in a long-term relationship with Hanna Prater, who he met at primary school. The couple prefer to stay out of the media spotlight when possible and live in Switzerland with their two young daughters, Emilie and Matilda.
The 28-year-old studied industrial design at university and is an avid follower of her partner's career, though she prefers not to attend races.