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Vettel Becomes Youngest Formula One Champ

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Formula 1, Sebastian Vettel

Vettel Becomes Youngest Formula One Champ

VOA Breaking News (Voice of America)
November 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

German driver Sebastian Vettel has clinched the 2010 Formula One title after winning Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to become the youngest champion ever.

The 23-year-old Vettel is six months younger than Britain’s Lewis Hamilton was when he won the title in 2008.

Vettel started the final race of the season in his Red Bull from the pole position. He was in third place in the standings, 15 points behind two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Spain in a Ferrari, and seven points behind teammate Mark Webber of Australia. However, Alonso finished a disappointing seventh Sunday, and four points behind Vettel for second in the final standings. Webber ended up third, 14 points back after an eighth-place finish in Abu Dhabi.

McLaren drivers Hamilton and defending champion Jenson Button of Britain were second and third across the finish line behind Vettel. Hamilton ended up fourth in the 2010 standings, 16 points off the pace. It was the first time in Formula One history that four drivers had been in contention for the title heading into the last race of the season.

Alonso paid the price for pitting his Ferrari too early and getting stuck behind two non-contending drivers for nearly 40 laps. Webber also fell behind after a pit stop and never recovered.

Vettel had an impressively strong finish to the season, winning three of the last four races. With the standings so close, Vettel said he did not realize he won the championship until he crossed the finish line and was told by a member of his team. He said he was speechless.

Red Bull won its first constructors’ championship this season, having clinched it in the previous race in Brazil.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher escaped without injuries from a scary crash at the start of Sunday’s race, after the Force India car of Vitantonio Liuzzi went over the top of the German’s Mercedes.

Liuzzi’s car landed centimeters away from Schumacher’s head, but the 41-year-old German was able to walk away unhurt, and he waved to fans as he exited the track. The crash ends a disappointing comeback season without a podium finish for Schumacher.

Some information in this story was provided by AP and AFP.

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