Sebastian Vettel has been tipped to go on and win many more championships in Formula 1, according to the man who helped bring him into grand prix racing.
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen, who signed up Vettel as a test driver for the then BMW Sauber F1 team in 2006 before seeing him score points on his debut at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, says he is proud of what the young German achieved this year.
"He did a fantastic job – especially in the final four races when the pressure was mounting," Theissen told AUTOSPORT. "When it didn't go his way, he kept his cool. Among the four or five title contenders, the youngest one was the one who didn't make any mistakes anymore. That was really, really good.
"He is a top driver, one of the top drivers in Formula 1 already at 23. If it all goes well, he has another 15 years in Formula 1, so there are quite some championships he can win if the car is right."
Theissen had no space at BMW Sauber to give Vettel a full-time drive, so agreed to release the German to Red Bull – which slotted him in at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the second half of the 2007 campaign. After winning Toro Rosso's first GP at Monza in 2008, he switched to Red Bull Racing the following year and clinched the world title at the final round of this season's championship in Abu Dhabi.