Sebastian Vettel has had enough of the Formula1 rigmarole. Announcing his retirement at the end of the season, the four-time World Champion and Aston Martin driver will bring an illustrious career to a close.

With 290 races and 53 wins under his belt, the German was a heavy hitter across circuits in the early 2010s. He has steadily faded into the middle rungs since only occasionally displaying glimpses of his virtuoso talents. Enjoying his best years in the dominant Red Bull, the 35-year-old won four Championships on the bounce.

His switch to Ferrari didn’t go to plan, as the Italian constructors struggled against the pacier Mercedes and Red Bulls. Irrespective, old Seb’s star burns bright in the paddock. But with his best years now a distant memory, it’d be nice to jog our memory with five readymade classics courtesy of the Heppenheim hurtler. 

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#5. Malaysian GP, 2015

Vettel’s finest moment in Scuderia Red had the motorsports world buzzing about Ferrari’s return. It would prove to be a false dawn, but -in isolation- it had all the makings of a Seb show. Behind Lewis Hamilton on the grid, the crew executed the race to the T. Running on better tyres, Vettel made two pit stops to Mercedes’ three, helping him ease into the lead. Vettel even passed Hamilton on track, with the Briton a lap behind him. It was a moment of pure dominance, albeit short-lived. 

#4. Brazilian GP, 2012

Every great champion leaves behind moments of peak brilliance. Ayrton Senna’s wet-weather mastery in Portugal immediately comes to mind. Fernando Alonso shielding the lead from Michael Schumacher at Imola is another. But I digress. At Interlagos, with the 2012 Championship on the line, Vettel began cautiously, falling behind the pack.

It would get worse before it got better. Bruno Senna’s Williams shaved against his car, damaging its rear. With the car pointing the wrong way, the German had every right to feel resigned. Instead, he bit back like a rabid dog. On dry tyres in lashing rain, Vettel defied logic to work his way back to sixth, pipping Alonso to the title by three points. 

#3. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 2010

Going into the season finale- the night race at Yas Marina- the German trailed Ferrari’s Alonso by 15 points. Red Bull teammate Mark Webber- eight points behind Alonso- had a closer sniff of the title. Hamilton was also in the fray, but he was the distant contender. Vettel starting off in pole position, drove calmly to win easy. Alonso finished ahead of Webber, but behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, at seventh place, handing the German his first title. The Spaniard was furious with the Russian, gesturing toward him after the race. 

#2. Singapore Grand Prix, 2013

It was the pinnacle of the Vettel years. His dominance was such, that suspicions of foul play were afloat in the paddock. But Vettel continued unflustered. In Singapore, under lights, he zipped around the street circuit as a man possessed. A brief duel with Nico Rosberg later, he had a 22-second lead after 10 laps. First to the chequered flag without a hitch, he looked and felt invincible. 

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#1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 2012

Better remembered for Kimi Raikkonen’s famous ‘leave me alone’ putdown, Vettel put in a performance for the ages. Starting from the pit lane (effectively bottom placed), Vettel carved through the pack to finish third, behind Alonso. With the Spaniard breathing into his Championship lead, the German’s mishaps in qualifying and practice had left him vulnerable.

But on race day, however, he proved his all-round qualities, scything through the pack, one irresistible overtake at a time. If there were doubts of his derring-do, this singular showing of wheel-to-wheel brilliance was the perfect riposte from the German.