Thu 25 June 2015
Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has signed up for this year’s Race Of Champions on November 20-21 at the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the iconic home of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Vettel became the youngest driver ever to win the Formula 1 world championship when he took his first title in a last-race thriller in 2010. He has since cemented his place among the sport’s all-time greats by following that with three further triumphs in the next three seasons.
After his switch to Scuderia Ferrari at the start of this year, Vettel made an immediate impact yet again. First he reached the podium on his debut in Australia, then he took the team back to the top step with a fine victory at race two in Malaysia. Four further podiums have since firmly established his status as the main challenger to this year’s leading Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Vettel also has an impressive record at the Race Of Champions. He made his debut at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2007 and duly partnered his countryman Michael Schumacher to ROC Nations Cup glory for Team Germany. The pair went on to keep the trophy until 2012 with victories in Beijing, Düsseldorf and Bangkok, leaving them with a record six consecutive ROC Nations Cup wins.
Now Vettel is back for another Race Of Champions in London, this time at the former Olympic Stadium – though he will sadly need a new partner in the ROC Nations Cup as Michael Schumacher continues his rehabilitation from injuries suffered in a skiing accident late in 2013.
Drivers already confirmed for ROC 2015 include nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg and current ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard.
Vettel said: “I’m looking forward to returning to the Race Of Champions, which I've enjoyed competing in since my Formula 1 debut in 2007. It is going to be very exciting to race cars in the Stadium that hosted the 2012 London Olympic Games. Of course I’ll miss having Michael as my team-mate this time but I’ll try my best to bring the ROC Nations Cup trophy back to Germany and to win my first individual ROC title. That is one trophy that is still missing from my collection…”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season contest which has been held for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s major disciplines – including Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
The event is run over two days: first comes the ROC Nations Cup (on the evening of Friday November 20) when drivers pair up in teams based on nationality to bid for the title of ‘World’s Fastest Nation’. Then on the afternoon of Saturday November 21 it’s time for the Race Of Champions itself, when teamwork goes out of the window and it’s a flat-out battle for individual glory.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “It’s brilliant news that Sebastian will join us at this year’s Race Of Champions at London’s former Olympic Stadium. When he raced at Wembley in 2007 it was still a year before his first F1 grand prix win but it was clear to everyone watching that they were in the presence of something special – not least when he beat World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm in his own rally car.
“Since then Seb has proved himself to be one of the greatest drivers of all time with four F1 world championships and counting. His podiums for Ferrari this year show he is still at the very top of his game and he will no doubt be as keen as ever to push to the limit in the identical machinery on offer at the Race Of Champions.
“The only huge pity is that Michael won’t be able to join him to seek yet another ROC Nations Cup title for Team Germany this year. Everyone involved sends Michael our best wishes and rest assured we’ll find Seb a worthy team-mate in his absence. This is a special chance to see this racing legend in action up close in a stadium setting and we look forward to welcoming a full house in November to enjoy the show.”
In recent years ROC has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London’s Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena (2010-2011), the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012) and Bushy Park Barbados (2014). Now the contest is returning to its European roots at the iconic home of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The former Olympic Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was the backdrop to some of the most memorable action of London 2012, plus the opening and closing ceremonies. Now it is being transformed into a year-round multi-use venue that will deliver a lasting sporting, cultural and community legacy in east London. The works will be paused this autumn for a range of international sporting events – including its fastest ever race as ROC comes to town – before it closes for further refurbishment ahead of its full re-opening in 2016.
Tickets for ROC 2015 in London are now available via www.ticketmaster.co.uk/roc. For access to rights-free high-resolution imagery and to keep up with all the latest news ahead of this year’s event please visit www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook plus @raceofchampions and #ROCLondon on Twitter.