Mike Krack reveals the struggles Sebastian Vettel had at the start of his F1 career

Jon Wilde
Sebastian Vettel signs autographs at the Italian GP. Monza September 2006.

A young Sebastian Vettel signs autographs at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2006.

Mike Krack says Sebastian Vettel was not quick immediately when he joined BMW Sauber at the start of his Formula 1 career.

The duo are now Aston Martin team principal and driver respectively, although only for another nine races until Vettel bows out having announced his impending retirement.

But their association goes all the way back to 2006 when Vettel joined BMW Sauber as a test driver – at a time when he was also competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series – and Krack was chief engineer.

The German driver made an immediate impression when he started taking part in F1 practice sessions, topping the timesheet on his debut Turkish Grand Prix weekend in August 2006 as a test driver and doing so twice at Monza a fortnight later.

 

 

When Vettel made his race debut at the 2007 United States Grand Prix he finished eighth, gained his first victory the following year for Toro Rosso – and by 2010 he was World Champion in a Red Bull.

That makes it surprising, therefore, that Krack did not immediately spot the natural talent in him.

Asked during the Beyond the Grid podcast for his first impressions of Vettel, Krack said: “He was so young, I think he was 18 or something like that. You had this young dynamism and friendliness and naivety also a little bit – that was very refreshing.

“He wasn’t quick straight away. He was okay, but he was not flying straight away. I think honestly Sebastian found the trick later in his time with Toro Rosso, when he left and was not with us anymore.

“I think as Giorgio Ascanelli (Toro Rosso technical director) said once, he found the trick how to drive these cars – and from that point he was just exploding.”

Mike Krack speaks with Sebastian Vettel in the garage. Bahrain March 2022
Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack speaks with Sebastian Vettel in the garage. Bahrain March 2022

Krack clarified, however, it was not because of talent that Vettel did not immediately impress, just that he was unable at first to unleash it.

“I think maybe it was also a bit awful that we didn’t teach him enough how to drive an F1 car compared to F3,” said the 50-year-old Aston Martin boss from Luxembourg.

“He was also at a time when he drove F3, then World Series and then he changed again to F1, so he was thrown into different cars. I don’t know if he was maybe lost a bit or he needed to find his references.

“I think he found out later when he was not thrown back and forth.”