Sebastian Vettel was reunited with his 2011 title-winning Red Bull RB7 this weekend ahead of the annual 12 hour endurance race at the Nurburgring.
The four-time Formula 1 world champion took to the full 15.770-mile combined Nordschleife and GP track as part of Red Bull’s “Formula Nurburgring” event alongside a host of other high-profile drivers, riders, and vehicles, including David Coulthard in a 2012 Red Bull RB8 which was originally set to be driven by Daniel Ricciardo until the Australian was ruled out by injury.
Vettel drove RB7-01 on the run, one of five cars built by Red Bull for the 2011 season – and one of four currently in service as a running show car for Red Bull promotional events. Chassis 01 was driven by Mark Webber at that year’s Monaco Grand Prix, but was not campaigned by Vettel himself, who drove chassis 03 for the first 12 races of the season before moving to 05.
“The sound is great… Fortunately I still fit in the seat,” Vettel said in an Instagram Live video broadcast after he’d tested the car on Friday ahead of the event. “The feel for the car came back straight away and it was fantastic.
“Obviously the cars are a bit smaller than they are now, but they’re also a lot lighter and more agile. A lot of good memories … It’s the original seat; it still fits. I’m very proud of that. I haven’t got fat yet! It was a lot of fun.”
The car was being run on synthetic, carbon-neutral fuel previously showcased by Vettel at the 2022 British Grand Prix with a 1992 Williams FW14B that he owns, and at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year with the Williams and a 1993 McLaren MP4/8 also from Vettel’s own collection.
“I feel like I’m in a time capsule. Lots of memories came back,” said Vettel. “Everything fits together here today – including the fact that we now use synthetic, i.e. CO2-neutral fuel.
“Motorsport is my great passion and I want to preserve the sport. Fuels can be produced synthetically and serve as a substitute. This may not be the only solution, but it is part of the solution. It is important that we all realize that we have to do something, and the best thing is: you don’t feel any difference in the car; it’s just as much fun.”
It was Vettel’s first time driving an RB7 since November 2014 when he drove the car in a demonstration in Dubai, while his and Coulthard’s laps at the Nurburgring marked the first time in a decade that modern Formula 1 machinery has taken to the Nordschleife, which was last used for a Grand Prix in 1976.
Michael Schumacher made his final public appearance driving an F1 car in 2013 when he took a 2011 W02 out ahead of that year’s 24h Nurburgring. In 2007, Nick Heidfeld drove a BMW Sauber F1.06 on the track as well.
Also in attendance at Formula Nurburgring was Gerhard Berger driving a 1995 Ferrari 412 T2; Ralf Schumacher in the Williams-BMW FW25 that he won the 2003 European grand prix at the Nurburgring in, as well as the subsequent French GP; Mattias Lauda in a Ferrari 312 B3-74 raced by his father Niki in 1974; former Minardi F1 driver Patrick Friesacher in an ex-NASCAR Cup series Toyota Camry and current AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda in a Honda NSX GT3.