Believe it or not, there was a time before Sebastian Vettel was winning the Formula One drivers' championship every single year. The German has not always been the champion; it only seems so, especially after he clinched his fourth consecutive title yesterday. As Vettel takes his place among the greats, our Paul Oberjuerge looks at the five men who were Formula One champions before Vettel's reign began.
1. 2009, Jenson Button: The Englishman did not win a race over the final four months of the season, but his six victories for Brawn GP in the first seven races of the campaign gave him a 26-point lead, and he was in the points often enough that he clinched at Brazil, a week ahead of the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
2. 2008, Lewis Hamilton: The Briton, 23, won one of the tightest seasons in F1 history, securing a one-point edge over Felipe Massa by making a pass in the final turn of the final race, in Brazil. Hamilton was the first English champion since Damon Hill in 1996.
3. 2007, Kimi Raikkonen: The Finn won the final two races to snatch the title by one point from Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen, Ferrariís most recent champion, won six races and survived two retirements. He needed Alonso to finish third in the finale, and the Spaniard did, with Massa second.
4. 2006, Fernando Alonso: A victory in Japan and second place in Brazil allowed the Renault driver to pass Ferrariís Michael Schumacher for the championship. The two had duelled throughout the season, each winning seven of the seasonís 18 races. Alonso also won in 2005.
5. 2004, Michael Schumacher: The German and Ferrari dominated the season, winning 13 of 18 races, and 12 of the first 13, securing the championship in Belgium, with four races still to run. It was Schumacherís seventh championship, and given his superiority, few thought it would be his last.