Two weeks on from winning his first F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi, there is still little sign of Sebastian Vettel taking a rest. This weekend he demonstrated his Red Bull on the streets of Berlin in his native Germany.
If that wasn’t enough, he then headed to Dusseldorf where he and Michael Schumacher clinched their fourth successive Nations Cup title at the annual Race of Champions (ROC) event.
Vettel’s Berlin run took place on Saturday on a temporary track constructed on June 17th Street, allowing Formula One’s youngest champion to drive an F1 car in front of the famous Brandenburg Gate. He then completed a driver’s parade along Yitzhak-Rabin Street, aboard the Red Bull tour bus.
Happy to be able to celebrate with his fans in the German capital, Vettel said: "It was a dream come true for me today and it was great that so many people were here, even in the cold weather. It’s something very special to drive in front of the Brandenburg Gate and to leave a signature of rubber written by my slicks! You don’t get such a chance very often in life - it was a great day.”
On Sunday, neither Vettel nor Schumacher made the finals in the individual ROC competition, but in combination they were again invincible in the Nations Cup. In a repeat of the last two finals, Team Germany lined up against Team GB, represented by touring car stars Andy Priaulx and Jason Plato. The two teams were extremely closely matched and needed a sudden-death shoot-out to decide the result, with Schumacher beating Priaulx by a fraction.
“The moment I went out on to the track everyone stood up and went crazy,” said Vettel. “It was a really cool night for all the fans, as well as for Michael and myself to get so much support. It was extremely close in the first round and we thought we might get knocked out. But I was lucky I had Michael on my team. It was a fun experience and to win at home, the first time in many years that the Race of Champions has been held in Germany, is very special.”
Schumacher added: “The crowd were very supportive tonight; they were cheering us all the way and with Sebastian having just won the world championship it was even more emotional and fun out there tonight. After the group stages we definitely needed to wake up - it felt like we were asleep. But when we were in the final, against the British guys, I thought we had a good chance.”
The ROC was a less joyous affair for Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen, returning to the event he won in 2004. The Finn was briefly knocked unconscious after a heavy off in his first heat of the afternoon. Both he and his passenger - girlfriend Catherine Hyde - emerged from the damaged Audi R8 unhurt, but Kovalainen withdrew for precautionary hospital checks.
Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber also had a busy weekend in his native Australia, where he and Red Bull Junior driver Daniel Ricciardo were taking part in Perth’s first-ever Festival of Speed at Wanneroo Raceway, which was also attended by F1 champions Alan Jones and Jack Brabham.
“It’s awesome to be back in Australia and it’s great to get a Formula One car to this part of the country,” said Webber. “I raced at the Wanneroo Raceway in 1994 - it’s always been part of the racing scene here. It wasn’t a five-minute job to get an event like this arranged, so well done to everyone involved.”