With Sebasitan Vettel's first Formula One drivers title, Germany can celebrate a new world champion. Deutsche Welle's sports writer Arnulf Boettcher provides his take on Germany's new sports hero.
Germany has a new sports hero: Sebastian Vettel, the youngest world champion in Formula One history. Born in the south-western German town of Heppenheim, Vettel wears the Formula One crown at just 23 years old - and surely not for the last time.
Germany's other Formula One world-champion, Michael Schumacher, was 25 when he won his first of a record seven titles. Like Schumacher, Vettel is known for his meticulousness and obsession over detail. But unlike his role model Schumacher, Vettel doesn't come across as so serious. Instead, Vettel is seen as quick-witted, youthfully mischievous, and almost always smiling. That's what makes him so likeable on the Formula One scene.
Vettel almost become world champion last year. He was held back by technical problems with his Red Bull car, but hasty mistakes were part of the problem, too. He narrowly escaped meeting the same fate again this year. But the setbacks only appear to have made him stronger. In the decisive race, he took first place and made no mistakes in a dominating race where he was the best driver among his competitors. Ten pole positions and five victories make Vettel a worthy and well-deserving champion.
Fernando Alonso is left pondering what might have been as his Ferrari team implemented the wrong strategy in the final race in Abu Dhabi. As for his title chances, Alonso benefitted from an illegal team order: His Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was leading at the Hockenheim race, but was ordered to let Alonso through, securing an extra seven points for the Spaniard. Red Bull, on the other hand, did not issue team orders in the 2010 season and earned great respect from all sides.
Vettel benefitted from the new points system that made Formula One decidedly more exciting. Five drivers were in contention for the title heading into the second-to-last race, and for the final event four were still in the running. In the end, Vettel triumphed, after coming into the race in third place 15 points behind and without having even occupied top spot. Now Germany can relish a world-title fairy tale and a youthful world champion.
But any expectations that Vettel could someday overtake Michael Schumacher as the record world champion are misguided. Formula One has become much too fast-paced, and five different champions in the last five years speak for themselves.
Arnulf Boettcher writes for DW's sports department (mz)
Editor: Rob Turner