June 20th, 2013 (F1plus/R. Baillie).- The current World Champion started off with the Red Bull family in the Red Bull Junior Team. In 2008 he joined Toro Rosso, giving them their first race win and then graduated the Red Bull for the 2009 season, going on to win 29 races to date and three World Championships all before the age of 26.
For the past three years the reigning World Champion has had arguably the best car on the grid, so why on earth would he want to go anywhere else?
If you’ve been following Formula 1 for some time, you’ll know how much Vettel loves to collect and break world records, so he will almost certainly be eyeing up Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships, which means he needs a team and car which will deliver race after race, year after year.
From Red Bull to Prancing Horse?
It’s every racing drivers dream to put on those red overalls and climb into the scarlet red car and win races and World Championships in it. Previously Vettel has mentioned that he’d love to drive for Ferrari, but would he ever dream of doing that while Fernando Alonso is there?
The Maranello based team make no secret of having a number one and a number two driver and the latter is expected to let number one past when needs be and even take a grid penalty to help his teammates championship hopes.
Judging on what we’ve seen from Vettel’s career so far, there’s no chance he’d deal with being number two. He’s a racing driver through and though; as Ayrton Senna once said “I am not designed to come second or third. I am designed to win”, quite simply it isn’t in his nature for him to do anything but win. You only have to see the disappointed look on his face when he comes second or third, or doesn’t even make it onto the podium to know that.
As we’ve witnessed over the past couple of years, Vettel’s relationship with his teammate Mark Webber isn’t fantastic and he really struggled to play number two driver at the Malaysian Grand Prix, which eventually resulted in him passing the Australian anyway against team orders. Many fans were shocked that he ignored team orders, but if you’re vaguely competitive yourself you can probably understand that winning is something they’re deeply passionate about and their need to win is probably bigger than their need to please their team.
Vettel is the fourth highest paid driver on the grid according to Business Book GP, with both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton being the equally highest paid drivers with a salary of 20 Million Euro’s, though that won’t take into account sponsorship money and prize money.
Vettel has never been the highest paid driver on the grid, so if he were truly money motivated he’d probably have negotiated a higher salary with Red Bull by now. After all it wouldn’t be difficult for him, he has helped them win three Drivers and Constructors Championships in a row and I’m sure the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari could offer him a much higher salary if he wanted it.
Red Bull losing their touch
One of the main reasons the young German has stayed with Red Bull is due to their brilliant performance and consistency over the past few years. As the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, there’s no real reason for him to look somewhere else as long as he’s winning with Red Bull. However next year's engine changes will bring uncertainty to all of the teams and if the Milton Keynes based team fail to get on top of the changes and thrive, Vettel may find himself admiring a race seat at another big team who are doing well.
While Red Bull struggling to do well may seem unlikely to some, you only need to look at McLaren’s performance this year to see that it is possible for the big teams to struggle and get it wrong.
Lewis Hamilton made the switch from McLaren, the team where he grew up and spent 14 years of his life; to go to Mercedes to grow up and experience life outside of the Woking based team. The 2008 World Champion also admitted that he felt McLaren was quite controlled and restrictive. Though we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, from the outside at least Red Bull seems quite relaxed and the drivers certainly don’t seem to do as many sponsorship events as the McLaren drivers do.
The day may come for Vettel also where he feels it’s time to experience life outside of Red Bull Racing and ‘grow up’, though I imagine it will be Vettel’s desire to win will be what encourages him or gives him the push to leave Red Bull.