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2012 – A Record Breaking Year

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel wrote history again in 2012 when he won the Formula 1™ Driver’s Championship for the third time in a row – a hard-fought hat trick that saw the now three-time World Champ also net the DHL Fastest Lap Award with six Fastest Laps over the year.

Vettel streaks by DHL branding in Montreal

After dominating the sport in 2011 while on the road to his second World Championship, Sebastian Vettel found himself in a much more heated competition throughout the 2012 season.

Bahrain beginnings
It took the champ four races into the 2012 season to find himself back on top. Although he outpaced the pack from start to finish on the Bahrain International Circuit, it wasn’t without a fight. The Red Bull driver admitted as much after the race: “It's a very tight season. The cars are very close to each other. Small things can make a huge difference,” he said. With four different drivers topping the podium and four different fastest lap pilots after four Grand Prix races in 2012, the season was revving up to be a tight one indeed.

This competitiveness would become the hallmark of 2012 and after Monaco just a few weeks later, fans had witnessed six winners and six fastest lap drivers in as many races – a first in F1’s 62-year history.

Vettel makes first move
At the Formula 1 Grand Prix Du Canada 2012 in June, Vettel was unable to find the podium but did find his second Fastest Lap of the season, racing the 4.3-km Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in 1 min. 15.752 sec.

It wasn’t until the British Grand Prix one month later where Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen of team Lotus showed spunk in the closing laps of the race to take the Fastest Lap with only two to go to tie Vettel at two apiece. Kimi’s teammate, Romain Grosjean, drove the same lap just two-tenths of a second behind. His extraordinary comeback from the back of the grid made for a great day for the Lotus duo

Vettel ahead at the half
At the season’s halfway point in Hungary, just before the summer break, Vettel was getting some grief for not living up to his unbeatable performance of the past two seasons. After dominating F1 for two years, the German had only managed one checkered flag up to that point in 2012. But that’s not to say he wasn’t driving well – and fast! He was, after all, in third place in the Driver’s Championship at that point and therefore in the hunt for the title. And in Hungary he made a statement, driving his third fastest lap and jumping out ahead of the pack of seven hungry drivers.

Just before the start in Hungary

After the break, an eighth pilot, Bruno Senna of Team Williams-Renault, joined the race for the 2012 Fastest Lap, stealing what could have been Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg’s second in the final laps of the famed Belgian Grand Prix. But Rosberg got a second chance a week later in Italy, where the young German reminded us of how important it is to never give up – a simple lesson that the best of the best teach us every day. Late in the race, he aggressively picked off slower drivers one by one on fresh tires, trading fastest laps with Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who was chasing down race leader Lewis Hamilton and would go on to place second. Rosberg didn’t let up and raced the final 5.793 km lap in 1 min 27.239 sec. At that point he was in a very positive position: alongside Räikkönen with two Fastest Laps and in striking distance of Sebastian Vettel.

Vintage Vettel
Under the floodlit streets of Singapore in late September, Red Bull’s number one driver began a run of four consecutive race wins that would catapult him to the top of the leaderboard and ultimately put him in the position to take his third consecutive Driver’s Championship. And it was in Japan two weeks later where Vettel would leave the fastest lap chasers in the dust.

At Suzuka, Vettel appeared to be in a class of his own the entire race. By Lap 10, he had opened up a 6.2-second lead over Kamui Kobayashi of Team Sauber, who piloted a superb race of his own, eventually scoring his first podium finish in front of a thrilled home crowd.

Vettel outpaces the pack in Japan.

Despite a monster 18-second lead and to fans' delight, Vettel didn’t back off the throttle. In a variety one can now only call vintage Vettel, the reigning world champ and relentless crowd pleaser repeatedly pushed his car to the limit to drive fastest laps.

At the end of the day, the German had notched up his fourth Fastest Lap of the season and a commanding lead over Räikkönen and Rosberg.

Vettel wins
After his teammate and 2011 Fastest Lap Champ, Mark Webber, scored his first fastest lap of 2012 in Korea, Vettel sealed the deal in Abu Dhabi, piloting his fifth Fastest Lap. That put him three ahead of Räikkönen and Rosberg with only two races to go.

Sebastian Vettel accepts the 2012 DHL Fastest Lap Award from DHL Express Brazil’s Joakim Thrane and DHL Ambassador, Christian Danner.

Fans in Austin, Texas watched another vintage Vettel performance two weeks later when the Red Bull pilot raced his sixth Fastest Lap of the season, though at that point the Fastest Lap victory was sealed.

On the day he raced into history with a hard fought World Championship hat trick, DHL honored Sebastian Vettel with this year’s DHL Fastest Lap Award at a special ceremony in São Paulo.

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