Michael Schumacher once presented the trophy to little Sebastian Vettel when he was just seven and had won a karting race.
Back in 1994, Michael Schumacher was taking Formula One world by storm. At the age of 25, the German racer was on his way to winning his first championship, and 18 years later he retired as one of the greatest drivers in the history of Formula One.
However, in the same year, another German driver was making significant progress in his own career. Seven-year-old Sebastian Vettel was driving go-karts with dreams of being like Schumacher when he grew up.
That year, Vettel was surprised when the seven-time champion presented him with the winner’s trophy at a karting race. At the time, Schumacher may not have thought much of the young man he squatted down to shake hands with and congratulate.
— Zenia D’cunha (@ZENIADCUNHA) October 22, 2011
Moving forward to the 2012 Brazilian GP, Schumacher parks his car in the Interlagos pit lane after battling back from nearly a lap down to finish within the points in his final F1 race.
His focus quickly shifts to the same young guy he met 18 years ago, only this time the prize is far greater, a third Formula One world championship.
“I’m proud of him. He’s a good friend of mine.” Michael said post-race. “He was my hero,” Vettel told F1 Racing magazine. “I used to have posters on the wall of him. I met Michael for the first time when I was seven.
“Then, later, I got to know him as a person, and he was always there for me, with a word of advice or help,” he added
This gif of Michael Schumacher giving little Seb his winner’s trophy is so heartwarming ♥️ you can see by the way he’s walking how joyful was this moment. pic.twitter.com/tmiFtF2tkO
— The Vettels 🇧🇷 (@TVettels) September 15, 2019
“What my father was to Sebastian Vettel, he is to me”
While Vettel viewed Michael as an inspiration, another Schumacher shares a special bond with the four-time world champion.
Today, the F1 champion is one of the grid’s elder statesmen, serving as an inspiration and mentor for none other than the seven-time world champion’s son, Mick.
Although Mick had an average start to his formula one career, he has managed to develop a student-teacher relationship with his fellow German driver.
Vettel once mentioned that in his life or on track, he will help mick with some of the things he himself went through in his career.
“We have a special relationship. Obviously, there is one person who connects us,” he said.
But he does feel that it is important for Mick to find his own path and follow his own way. Mick stated that their friendship is more important to him than his mentorship on the track.
“I think what my dad was to Sebastian, he is for me: someone that I’m close to, with whom I can talk about motorsport.”
Today, the seven-year-old boy who received the trophy back in 1994 has now accomplished his dream. He ended up being Formula One’s youngest World Champion years later.