Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel put in a stunning performance to eclipse 19 fellow stars of motor sport and win the Race Of Champions for the first time on a thrilling afternoon of action at London’s former Olympic Stadium.
Following Team England 1’s triumph in last night’s ROC Nations Cup, all cooperation went out of the window today as the individual Race Of Champions pitted many of motor sport’s biggest names in identical cars on a brand new Olympic cycling-style pursuit track.
Vettel had never been in the Race Of Champions Grand Final before, despite his six ROC Nations Cup wins in partnership with Michael Schumacher for Team Germany. Kristensen, by contrast, has been in the Grand Final no less than four times without yet coming out on top.
Vettel said: “Of course I’m very happy and honoured to win – but that took a while! A lot of world class racing drivers have won this trophy. I’ve tried to win this many times and failed many times but finally I’ve succeeded.
“What the Race Of Champions gives us is a lot of joy. When we were kids starting to race, we did it for pure joy and this sort of event is a good reminder of that. When you close the visor, ultimately victory is still what drives you. But I’ve tried to win this so many times, today was more like a surprise. We all know this format is very difficult because no one gets much time in the cars so you need to find your rhythm quickly. Today I had the feeling I found it straightaway. It was very cold but it was a great atmosphere so thank you very much to everyone for coming to watch.”
Before the racing the drivers unfurled a banner in conjunction with the institute for advanced research into brain and spinal cord injuries ICM in honour of ROC’s absent friend (and six-time ROC Nations Cup winner) Michael Schumacher as he continues his recovery from his skiing accident. ROC will also support the joint Gene Therapy research programme that Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London and Necker Hospital in Paris are working on to find a cure for Children with HLH.
Race of champions was held here in Asia in 2009 China, and Bangkok in 2012 & 2013. This year’s it was held at London’s former Olympic Stadium marks the end of the Race Of Champions for 2015 and it will also be held next year for ROC 2016.