It is a surprise for no one, and it couldn’t be doubted since Vettel continued his winning ways after the summer break, he is the youngest double World Champion. And the youngest champion with consecutive championships too, obviously.
Of course he had the records for youngest pole-setter, youngest race winner and youngest World Champion before the season started, but let’s have a look at what he can still get this year and in the course of his driving career.
Vettel has 7 years to get himself another crown and beat the current youngest triple World Champion (and F1 legend) Ayrton Senna. After that, the records are all in German hand already, Schumi was 32 when he got championship number 4, and took it consecutively up to 7.
In terms of total wins, the best Vettel can hope for this season is entering the top ten by winning all remaining races and bringing his total to 23, equaling Nelson Piquet. In any case, he will be far away from Schumacher’s 91 career wins. A 2012 season about as successful as this one would fast get him past the current joint number 5 on the list, Jackie Stewart and Fernando Alonso. Although the latter might advance his total, too, depending on Ferrari’s form. There is little doubt that Vettel can get the fourth spot, Nigel Mansell’s 31 wins, eventually. The length of his career and the quality of his cars will decide whether he can have a go at Senna (41), Prost (51) and even Schumacher. If this seems far away, just bear in mind the number of wins Schumi had to his name at Vettel’s current age: 1.
The old master should be able to keep his record for most wins in a season though, as Vettel would again have to win all remaining 2011 races to catch him with 13. It seems more realistic to aim for second spot with 11 wins, unsurprisingly also held by Schumacher.
Despite his current and last seasons, Vettel is still far from the top 10 in total podium finishes (33 vs. 10th position holder Lauda with 54). The record for podiums in one season seems reachable, though, as the four remaining races could lead him to 18 podiums, one more than Schumi (who else?) had in his near perfect 2002 season which admittedly had only 17 races. With the current reliability of the Red Bull cars, this record could be threatened again next season with its 20 races (if they all take place).
I won’t discuss the number of points records, as this category was completely
screwed messed up by the new points system. The number of pole positions is more interesting, particularly as the new champion has been doing very well in the one lap competition. His current total of 27 already put him past Häkkinen, Lauda and Piquet, and might allow him to overtake another legend, Juan-Manuel Fangio (29), before the season is ended. The number 3 spot held by Clark and Prost with 33 could fall in 2012. Senna (65) and Schumacher (68) seem far away, until one remembers we have up to 20 races per season nowadays so Vettel could theoretically be up there in two years. Especially if he does as well as this year, where his present total of 12 poles puts him only 2 top qualifyings away of Mansell’s record.
As a conclusion, one has to recognize that none of the current Formula One records are safe from this young guy from Heppenheim. And that those Autobahns without speed limit seem to be a breeding ground for fast drivers.