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GP Week : Issue 77
He fits Red Bull's philosophy to a tee. He could have been built in a factory in Austria. But he manages to transcend the brand as well. The comedy beanie hat with the Red Bull logo is now one of the team's best-selling merchandise items, his trademark check shorts, his haircut(s), all reflect the brand he drives for, while marking him out as an individual. And everything he does he does it one better than your average Formula One driver. In Australia he ingratiated himself -- in a potentially hostile arena -- by faking the accent, sticking the word 'mate' at the end of sentences and singing Mark's praises. At the end of each autograph signing, he goes to the crowd and hands out cards to those who didn't get to meet him. When he won at Silverstone in 2009, he ingratiated himself again with the locals by describing himself as feeling almost British. A German driver beats Hamilton and Button in their own backyard and managed to win over their crowd as well. That's clever, calculated PR.On track, he lets the driving do his publicity. And he's been rather successful in that too. Adrian Newey has had his fair share of success and worked with some half- decent drivers. Yet, the normally reserved design guru becomes almost effusive when asked about Vettel: "You have to pinch yourself to remember how young he is, to be honest," said Newey, "because in the way he presents himself, the way he drives the car and then tells you about the car in his feedback in the debriefs and so forth, he has a much older pair of shoulders on him than is apparent." And this older pair of shoulders, more than anything, is dedicated. Few other drivers could be found late on a Thursday evening 30