Vettel: Being The Best requires talent and hard work

  • Sebastian Vettel is a four-time Formula One World Champion

  • A big football fan, he supports German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt

  • He sees comparisons to the professional worlds of F1 racing and football

Sebastian Vettel knows all about being ‘The Best’. From 2010 to 2013, the German won four consecutive Formula One World Championship titles. It is an achievement that already puts him among the greats of motor sport.

Having reached the top of F1 on more than one occasion, the 30-year-old is in the unique position to provide insight into an athlete’s successful pursuit of excellence in their chosen discipline. A big football fan and supporter of German Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt, Vettel revealed what he thinks is needed to be a top performer in sport during a recent visit to the Home of FIFA in Zurich.

"A lot of talent. That’s the basic prerequisite,” Vettel said in an interview with FIFA 1904. “After that, it’s about how much you’re willing to work to improve yourself. Lots of people have got as far as being a professional and then been happy with that. But that’s exactly when you need to pay attention to the details and continue to improve. That’s the only way to get to places that no one has ever been before. Sooner or later, hard work is always rewarded."

The Best in football On Monday 23 October at the historic London Palladium, the football world will celebrate those that have excelled in the game over the past year during the second edition of The Best FIFA Football Awards™.

Like other football fans around the globe, Vettel finds it difficult to pick a top men’s player in the game at present, with regular debate drawn around the exploits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“There are good reasons why Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have had the title of best footballer in the world to themselves for years now. Such consistency at the highest level is extraordinary,” Vettel said. “Who’s better? That’s not an easy question. Messi is perhaps the more talented footballer of the two, but that makes Ronaldo the harder worker and better athlete.

“This monopoly at the top of football reminds me a lot of tennis, where the same four players have dominated the tour for years. Clearly, the players ranked five, six and seven are also good, but to get to the top, that’s not enough. Not for a prolonged period, anyway.”

Similar worlds To the uninitiated, driving a racing car at top speeds would have few comparisons to the skilful artistry and athleticism seen in football. Yet, Vettel believes the demands of a motor-racing career are not far removed from the many challenges that professional footballers and other top athletes face regularly.

“The longer you’re in the business , the more you feel the connection with athletes from other disciplines. I try to learn from them,” Vettel said. “What has shaped me and what I have to deal with affects every other professional sportsperson as well. Some kick a ball around, others hold a steering wheel, but the day-to-day challenges are the same. Training, discipline, and mental strength are important for all athletes.”