Vettel shows a meaner streak

Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:28am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

GREATER NOIDA, India (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel can legitimately claim to be one of Formula One's all-time greats after securing a fourth successive title that highlighted his genius as well as a darker side to his character.

The Red Bull driver is his own man, no longer the 'Baby Schumi' of old even if the smiling 26-year-old displayed some distinctly Schumacher-like traits on his way to becoming the sport's youngest quadruple champion.

The German was dominant but his uncompromising determination, some would say ruthlessness, shone through in 2013 - the same stuff of champions displayed by the likes of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.

Only the third driver, along with compatriot Schumacher and the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, to win four titles in a row, Vettel is now one of the absolute elite.

Winning one title is tough enough and only four drivers have ever won four (the other being Prost) and Vettel, with 36 wins from 117 races, is the only one to have taken his first four consecutively.

"Phenomenal" is the favorite word of team principal Christian Horner in his regard.

Others, less admiring, see a man whose Adrian Newey-designed car has no rivals and whose behavior this year seemed to have hoisted a metaphorical banner declaring 'No More Mr Nice Guy'.

If Vettel's raised single finger gesture from the top of the podium was already starting to get up some people's noses last year, what happened in Malaysia in the second round of the season was a watershed.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (L) and Lotus F1 Formula One driver Romain Grosjean of France (R) lift Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany after the Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi