Sebastian Vettel in profile
Last Updated: 20/01/17 12:42pm
2017 could be a key year for Sebastian Vettel and his future at Ferrari. After a strong start to his career at the Scuderia, there were signs of friction between he and the team in 2016.
Vettel picked up three wins in his debut season with the Scuderia, immediately drawing comparisons with his hero Michael Schumacher.
But 2016 didn't deliver any victories and as the season progressed the radio messages became more heated, with Vettel even warned by team boss Maurizio Arrivabene to just focus on driving.
Already established as the dominant force in F1 by his mid-20s, some of sport's most prestigious records were set - or at least equalled - by the German star in a 2013 season which saw him become only the third driver after Juan-Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win four successive Drivers' Championships - and the youngest by a considerable margin.
In truth, it should have come as no surprise as Vettel has been breaking records from almost the moment he stepped foot in an F1 car as a scruffy-haired teenager.
Vettel started as BMW Sauber's test driver from the 2006 Turkish GP onwards and lined up in his first race for the German-Swiss team at the 2007 United States GP as stand-in for the injured Robert Kubica. That weekend saw Vettel set his first F1 record when, aged 19, he became the youngest driver to score World Championship points, finishing in eighth place.
He remained with Toro Rosso in 2008 and buoyed by Red Bull's decision to promote him to their senior team, pulled off a remarkable win in the wet at the Italian GP.
Vettel backed up Red Bull's faith with an impressive run, bagging four race victories and mounting a late challenge for the drivers' title before losing out to Jenson Button.
2010 proved a different story for the German. Vettel demonstrated an impressive turn of pace from the start of the season, but he also made mistakes and the title was still very much in the balance going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
However, Vettel became F1's youngest World Champion at Yas Marina after rivals Fernando Alonso and Webber both got stuck in the pack after making early pit stops. It was the only time he had led the standings all season.
The German came into his own in 2011 by dominating the field in the highly-impressive RB7. The year started with back-to-back pole positions and victories - a run that quickly grew into a string of nine successive podium finishes, six of which were wins.
Vettel eventually claimed 11 wins, a record 15 poles and secured his second drivers' title with four races to spare. He also became the youngest double world champion and the youngest back-to-back title winner.
He extended the run in 2012 but it was far from a walkover, particularly during the first half of the season. Vettel was always there or thereabouts, however, and sixth place in the season-concluding Brazilian GP was sufficient to clinch a third consecutive title.
2013, though, was very much a walkover. Boosted by the introduction of beefed-up Pirelli tyres, and a relentless Adrian Newey-led development march, Red Bull and their star driver went up another gear after the summer break and Vettel won all of the season's final nine races.
The astonishing sequence equalled Alberto Ascari's previously impenetrable 60-year-old mark for successive F1 wins and also brought Vettel level with the mark of 13 wins in a single season set by Michael Schumacher, his childhood hero.
And then came the hiccup of 2014 as Vettel struggled with reduced rear-end grip and was comprehensively outdriven by new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as the young Aussie claimed all three of Red Bull's victories in what was otherwise a dismal campaign for the fallen superpower.
In October, the team announced that Vettel had exercised a hitherto-unknown escape clause in his contract to follow in the footsteps of boyhood idol Schumacher by joining Ferrari.
With the Scuderia stuck in the doldrums it appeared a risky move but Vettel appeared to have a galvanising effect on the team and was the only driver to consistently challenge the Mercedes pair throughout the season.
But 2016 saw Ferrari slip behind Red Bull in the pecking order and tensions seemed to mount within the team. How Ferrari respond to the 2017 rule changes could dictate the futures of Vettel and senior team personnel this year.