Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel's perfect partnership with Red Bull ready for final show

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After 16 years, one of sport's most successful partnerships will come to an end this weekend as Sebastian Vettel drives his final race with Red Bull.

Snapped up as an 11-year-old, Vettel enjoyed success in junior formulae before becoming the most accomplished driver in the post-Michael Schumacher era with four world titles to his name.

Now though, after his reign of dominance was brought to a shuddering halt this year, the German will move on from the Austrian drinks giant to replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for 2015, so lets look back at some of the best moments in one of Formula 1's dream team's.

For all the established drivers who tried to achieve success with Red Bull, the likes of Mark Webber and David Coulthard, it was Vettel who spearheaded their rise to the top.

Special from the start

The fresh-faced 19-year-old who led his first official practice session with BMW Sauber at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix and would score points on his race debut, replacing an injured Robert Kubica, at the same team at the United States Grand Prix a year later it was obvious the kid was something special.

His performance at Indianapolis would see him be released as test driver with the German car maker and drafted in to replace Scott Speed at Toro Rosso from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

A fourth place finish at the rain-hit Chinese Grand Prix would be a prelude to what was to come but while that was his only stand out result with the team in 2007 it was not his only stand out performance.

Fuji flash

Upon F1's return to the Fuji Speedway for the Japanese Grand Prix, the sport found itself back in the same torrential conditions it had left in as James Hunt claimed his only world title there in the pouring rain of 1976.

Thirty one years on, it was another Briton making one of his biggest statements during a debut year that so nearly ended in Lewis Hamilton claiming a first title in his rookie season but while he was putting on a wet-weather masterclass in a McLaren, Vettel was doing so in the Toro Rosso.

The German was running third behind Hamilton and his future team-mate Mark Webber before accidentally crashing into the back of the Australian behind the safety car taking both men out of the race.

While his inexperience, and questions over Hamilton's driving behind the safety car, showed in that race at Fuji, he was already proving what he was capable of on the more level playing field a wet race provides.

Monza magic

Still at Toro Rosso in 2008, it was this year that he put his name on the F1 map. Fifth in the rain in Monaco was just the start of a run that would see him go on to claim his and Red Bull's first win.

Fittingly it was a weekend much like Fuji, where the usual sunshine of Monza was replaced by a biblical deluge and in his Toro Rosso he would stick the car on pole in the most atrocious conditions in qualifying.

The rain would remain for Sunday and while the championship contenders struggled, it was Vettel and Italy's other team that would score one of the most remarkable wins ever seen as the German offered a glimpse into the future with a dominant drive from the front.

Seven consecutive points finishes at the final seven races would see him claim eighth in the drivers' championship after failing to score in the first five races.

Red Bull beckoned

When Coulthard called time on his career at the end of that year there was only man to step up to Red Bull as the sport embarked on major rule changes for 2009.

While Brawn GP and Jenson Button took over as the dominant force, Vettel and Red Bull were always just behind and after claiming the first win for Toro Rosso, would give the main Red Bull team their first win in another rain-hit race in Shanghai.

Three more wins that year saw him finish second to Button in the championship beating Rubens Barrichello which, given Brawn's early dominance, was a hell of an achievement.

History being made

Then it began, the run of success that would see him and Red Bull only lose out to Michael Schumacher and Ferrari for a period of dominance.

From being the last man standing in Abu Dhabi to claim his first crown in 2010 to another trademark lights-to-flag win in India, making it four-in-a-row last year, only a brave effort from Fernando Alonso in 2012 put any doubt into just how good a team Vettel and Red Bull were in that 48-month period.

His recovery drive from the back of the grid to third at Yas Marina in 2012 proved he was about far more than just starting first and finishing first, while his record run of nine straight wins from Spa to Brazil last year highlighted how good he is with his perfect car underneath him.

Silencing the critics

Some may make claims about how Mark Webber was held back by Red Bull management and that really it was 'only the car' but we saw the difference between good and champion through the 'Multi 21' incident and even if there was a tendency to favour Vettel over Webber his performances in 2009 and 2010 made him worthy of that treatment.

Then there's those who still question Vettel's ability given how he has struggled against his new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, but after four years of winning it can be hard to adjust expectations when the car is not upto scratch, while given the lack of downforce and grip compared to a year ago, Ricciardo stepping up from Toro Rosso made adapting to the new V6 cars much easier than it was for Vettel.

Ferrari move set to determine legacy

Now though comes the true litmus test as it were for those who still aren't convinced about just how good Sebastian Vettel is, a move to Ferrari, following in the footsteps of his hero, in the slump the Scuderia is currently facing gives the now 27-year-old his chance to prove those final critics wrong.

Reviving Ferrari and success with Ferrari will cement his place as one of Formula 1's greatest ever drivers but before that new era comes about lets remember how fortunate we have been to watch one of the greatest driver/ team combinations that will go down in history forever.

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