Everyone wanted to see the champion
Styria’s capital city Graz became the focal point for the international motorsport world on Saturday when triple Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel paid a visit to the Austrian home of his racing team Red Bull Racing. After a rendezvous with the international media and putting his signature into the city’s Golden Book of honor, the 25-year-old climbed into the cockpit of his trusty RB8 and gave the big crowd a thrilling demonstration of what his “Abbey” is capable of doing. Thousands of fans arrived many hours before the event to secure their vantage points for the show and to get an autograph from the man celebrated around the world for his racing prowess.
Success with Austrian roots. Sebastian Vettel earned his place in the history books less than a week ago as the youngest triple world champion ever when the German racer crossed the finish line at the end of an exciting final race of the Formula 1 season. The success of the Austrian racing team, which also successfully defended the Constructors’ world championship, also has roots in Styria. That is why Vettel was delighted to make a pit stop in Graz on behalf of Red Bull Racing motor sport boss Dr. Helmut Marko in front of 15,000 fans. “In 1960 I did a run like this in the city with Jochen Rindt even though there was no official backing or protective barriers. This is a dream-come-true for me. My only regret is that my friend Jochen Rindt wasn’t here to experience this too. He would have enjoyed it,” a visibly moved Dr. Helmut Marko said at a news conference before praising his protégé. “We always knew that Vettel has what it takes to overtake and that he’s got strong nerves. And at the end of the day Vettel always wins!”
The smell of burning rubber. Not far away from the newly created Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, the youngest triple world champion in the history of the sport put on a ear-splitting show run for his fans in his “Abbey”. Before that display, he answered questions from a pack of 160 journalists from around the world. “It’s probably going to take a while for it to sink in what a tremendous success we’ve been celebrating for the last week,” he said, adding his recommendation that Austria should host a Formula 1 race. “It’s great to be here. With the Red Bull Ring there’s a track not far from here that would be completely suitable for Formula 1. I don’t know why we’re not racing here.” The man from the German town of Heppenheim then recreated an authentic motorsport atmosphere in central Graz by taking a spin in his RB8, complete with some high-speed maneuvers, between the Burg Gate, Freedom Square, Karmelite Square and the Spor alley.
Goose bumps and doughnuts. It seemed for a while as if the entire population of the Styrian capital city was out on their feet to pay tribute to Vettel. Alongside the Vettel fan club from his home town of Heppenheim, there were another 200 supporters who made an extra flight to Graz from Germany to celebrate and experience his show run. He gave everyone there goose bumps and memories for a life time each time he revved up his 750 PS engine and performed several maneuvers that left his tires smoking. Indeed, Sebastian Vettel left a lasting impression on Graz – and not only with the burning rubber he left behind on the streets.
Accompanied by Graz mayor Siegried Nagl, Vettel also signed his name in the city’s Golden Book of honor along with Dr. Helmut Marko – right after the name of Sir Roger Moore. Mikhail Gorbachev is among the other distinguished celebrities who have previously signed their names in Graz’s Golden Book of honor. After that, Vettel waded into the crowd to sign autographs. Fans stood in long lines to have Vettel sign their racing helmets, t-shirts, posters and pictures.
More on Monday. Vettel’s schedule is jam-packed in the days ahead. But despite the predictably full schedule, the triple Formula 1 world champion will be back in Austria again on Monday. Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull Racing Team will appear in the ServusTV Live Show “Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7” in Salzburg on Monday, December 3, starting at 9:05 p.m.