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Is Vettel the greatest ever?

Written by Ben Blaschke

Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday was not only his sixth successive race victory, it also sealed his fourth consecutive Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship. Vettel joins Michael Schumacher (7), Juan Fangio (5) and Alain Prost (4) as the only men to have won four World Championships and alongside Schumacher and Fangio is one of only three to have won four titles in a row.

However, at just 26 years of age the question must now be asked whether Vettel will go on to become the greatest Formula 1 driver of all-time?

The young German still sits three titles behind countryman Schumacher but he has time on his side. More importantly, it’s hard to see where his challengers are going to come from in the immediate future. Rather than coming back to the field, Vettel seems to be putting more and more distance between himself and main championship rivals Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikonnen and Lewis Hamilton. In fact, none of his four Championship victories have come as convincingly as this year’s has.

Vettel has won a total of 10 races in 2013 and with three races remaining he has the opportunity to equal Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a season set back in 2004. He would also become the first man ever to win nine races in a row should that happen.

The Red Bull master has dominated his teammate, Mark Webber, in the three seasons since their dramatic battle for the title in 2010. Webber led the Championship race leading into the final race of the year in 2010 before being pipped at the post but hasn’t come close to another title shot since as Vettel has dominated the field.

While Webber is to be replaced by exciting young Aussie Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull next year, can anyone stop Vettel making it five in 2014? Or six in 2015? On current evidence, no.

It’s just a shame he doesn’t enjoy the same support from Formula 1 fans as some of his predecessors. Like Schumacher, Vettel has displayed a distinct arrogance and an ill-placed ruthless streak which has put him on the nose with a huge portion of F1 fans. Who could forget the Malaysian GP earlier this year when he ignored team orders and overtook Webber to claim victory with the Aussie having been told to conserve his tyres?

While Schumacher had his critics, at least he was adored by the passionate Ferrari fans who cheered him on to many of his 91 race victories.

Vettel currently sits on 36, but with a superior win percentage and many years of racing left if he so desires, who knows where he could end up? He might not be popular, but you don’t have to be loved to be the best.