The German who loves 'Little Britain'

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The Independent Online

So who is Sebastian Vettel, F1's youngest-ever polesitter and now its youngest-ever winner?

Born in Heppenheim, Germany, on 3 July 1987, he is fast becoming one of the true characters of a sport that has in recent years been accused of lacking any.

Vettel (right) has a very British sense of humour, for a start, which extends to comedy shows such as Little Britain, The League of Gentlemen and Monty Python. He once inadvertently offended one veteran of the sport by suggesting that she reminded him of the David Walliams Little Britain character Anne.

He made his Formula One race debut with BMW Sauber in the 2007 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, substituting for Robert Kubica who had crashed heavily in the previous weekend's race in Canada, and scored a point for eighth place. Subsequently, he took over the American driver Scott Speed's seat at Toro Rosso, for whom he still drives. Next year, however, he joins Mark Webber at the sister team Red Bull Racing as David Coulthard's replacement.

Prior to that, Vettel cut his teeth as BMW Sauber's test driver. When he took part in the Friday practice session for the Turkish GP in 2006 he became the youngest F1 driver to take part in a Grand Prix meeting, at the age of 19 years and 53 days. More records followed. When he led the 2007 Japanese race briefly last September, he became the youngest driver ever to lead a Grand Prix. At Indianapolis, he had also set a record for the fastest fine, when he was hit with a $1,000 penalty for pit-lane speeding nine seconds into the meeting.

"To be honest, records are not really important to me," he admits. "I think there was a youngest before, and at some point there will be a younger after me. I don't really care about statistics. It's more important to be on pole position and start the race from there, and now to win. It's a great result for us, a great success. I'm very, very happy, as you can imagine."

After the aloofness of Michael Schumacher, Vettel's almost schoolboyish pleasure at his new-found success is proving very popular in F1 circles, as is his honesty. In Japan last year he took out Webber when they were running behind Lewis Hamilton and the safety car. "I apologise to Mark because maybe his last wet race he would have won in Japan if I had kept my eyes open!" he admitted after taking pole position here.