Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Adam Macdonald
2008 was a year that saw another battle of epic proportions for the F1 World Drivers’ Championship. Felipe Massa, thought he had won the title, only for Lewis Hamilton to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – or in this case passing Timo Glock at the final corner of the final race of the 2008 Championship.
On this day in F1 in 2008, Sebastian Vettel secured his maiden victory around Monza to make him the youngest ever Grand Prix winner ever, at the age of 21 years, 73 days. He had beaten household names such as the American Troy Ruttman (3rd youngest), the New Zealander Bruce McLaren (4th), Lewis Hamilton (5th) and one other notable exception.
The previous record holder, Fernando Alonso, who had held the record at 22 years, 26 days, after taking victory at the 2003 Hungarian GP, managed a 4th place at the Italian GP. Interestingly, he did not comment on the fact that his record had just been taken away; perhaps he has been reading the tea leaves seeing years of torment to come at the hands of the young German. Either that, or having 2 records taken away from him in as many days was just too bitter a pill to swallow for the Spaniard. Alonso had previously held the youngest polesitter, at 21 years, 236 days at the 2003 Malaysian GP.
After qualifying on pole in tricky conditions, Vettel went on to dominate the race as well, in the end winning by 12.512 seconds. It was the first win for a non-Ferrari Italian based team since 1957. Furthermore, it was a first, and to date, only win for Toro Rosso, who since then have been a bit ‘part player in the Championships, largely due to the restriction on teams sharing chassis.
Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali, said after the race, “They [Toro Rosso] deserve it, they are close to us, and we are happy to work with them because we are giving them our engine.” A relationship that continued through to the end of the 2013 season as Toro Rosso moved to Renault – the same engine supplier as sister team Red Bull
One thing that Vettel did not manage to take that day, which he frequently makes a habit of taking, was the fastest lap. That accolade went to Kimi Räikkönen with a time of 1:28.047 on lap 53, the final one of the race. There was though, what was to become the trademark finger salute from the man from Heppenheim. Possibly the first time it was used?
Vettel said at the time, “A fantastic race, a fantastic weekend with pole as well and a fantastic strategy this afternoon. As for the podium ceremony it was unbelievable and this is the best day of my life. I will never forget these feelings. It is so unbelievable. It is better than I had ever expected … A perfect weekend.”
14th September 2008, the day a boy became a man. One of the first signs of a future world champion showed.