When it comes to raw driver talent, you can’t get much better than Sebastian Vettel, the four-time Formula One World Champion, who currently drives under the banner of Scuderia Ferrari. At an event to celebrate the launch of their new Shell V-Power Nitro Plus premium fuel, Shell got me some one-on-one track time with Seb himself behind the wheel of a brand-new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
After Vettel got a feel for the F12, we struck up conversation on what cars he drives when he is not behind the wheel of his Ferrari SF15-T F1 car. Despite what you might think, not all F1 drivers pilot million-dollar hypercars, vintage race cars, and overpowered roadsters in their free time. As it turns out, the fastest man on earth spends his time in traffic jams in a Fiat, his self-described “company car”. Despite his sponsorship, he also hinted at a Volkswagen van that he likes to poke around in. We chatted a bit about Ferraris, and his love for the V-12 soundtrack. His favorite roadgoing Ferrari? The sublime 458 Speciale.
Unsurprisingly, Seb was brutally fast on-track. The venue was a racing school circuit called Driveway Austin, which has corner designs lifted directly from circuits like Road America, Indianapolis Speedway, and Laguna Seca. The candy cane apex-markers were just suggestions as Seb did his best to put on a show for the bystanders. The F12 may have 731 hp, but Seb wasn’t hiding behind the inboard safety systems, as he had both traction and stability controls switched off by the beginning of the second lap.
Knowing full-well what happens when you hand a supercar over to an F1 driver, the track owner had opted to install a cone chicane in the middle of the main straight to prevent speeds from climbing over 130 mph. It failed to make much of a difference, as I caught the speedo climbing well above 120 mph on multiple occasions.
One of the greatest F1 drivers, at the top of his game, behind the wheel of Maranello’s best, and we went along for the ride. What could be better?