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Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel

Before Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes came to the fore of Formula 1 last year, it had been Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel who figured prominently in the title battles. Vettel, of course, swept the championship from 2010 to 2013, and Alonso came second to him three times in those four years.

The personality differences between the two appear stark, especially during the closely fought 2010 and 2012 seasons. The Spaniard is serious, brooding, wily and fiercely determined. The German, while also displaying a ruthless streak, is cheerful, cheeky and happy-go-lucky--not to mention lucky to be cruising to victories in a car anyone could win with when he was with Red Bull, whereas during Alonso's time at Ferrari, he flattered his shoddy car with his superior skills. (Or that's what some people say.)

But these two alpha males have similarities, too. They've shown fiery tempers that provide for entertaining radio transmissions and post-race interviews. Alonso has been involved in a number of controversies over the years (spygate, crashgate, Fernando-is-faster-than-you-gate), and Vettel seems keen to catch up in that regard considering his tangles with former teammate Mark Webber (Turkey in 2010; Malaysia in 2013, aka multi-21).

One more thing: Both drivers were born in July, six years and several days apart. Vettel, a native of Heppenheim in the state of Hesse, turned 28 on July 3rd; Alonso, hailing from Oviedo in the province of Asturias, will be 34 on July 29th. So, to celebrate their birthdays, we've come up with a list of their other similarities.

1. As with most F1 drivers, these two champions had their first taste of karts at a young age--Alonso at three, Vettel at three-and-a-half. They won their first formula-racing titles in the first series they competed in after their karting days. Alonso took the World Series by Nissan championship in 1999; Vettel became the German Formula BMW champion in 2004. They earned their first Formula 1 tests (Alonso with Minardi, Vettel with Williams) thanks to these accomplishments.

What's more, Minardi and Toro Rosso, which gave Alonso and Vettel their first permanent F1 seats, are different incarnations of the Faenza-based outfit founded by Giancarlo Minardi in 1985. When Alonso debuted with Minardi in 2001, it was owned by Paul Stoddart. By the time Vettel joined the squad for the last seven races of the 2007 season, it had come under Red Bull ownership as Toro Rosso. (Prior to being reclaimed by Red Bull, Vettel had been BMW Sauber's test driver, and deputized for the injured Robert Kubica at the 2007 US GP.)

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2. The two drivers have six championships between them, all of which came via Renault propulsion. Alonso's 2005 car, the works team R25, was powered by the 3.0-liter V10; the R26 of the following year introduced the French company's 2.4-liter V8. The KERS-assisted version of this motor then helped Vettel win his titles with Red Bull's RB6, RB7, RB8 and RB9.

These cars also pioneered technologies that gave them a performance advantage. Renault used the mass damper from the tail end of 2005 until it was banned in the latter half of 2006. Red Bull, meanwhile, benefited from its blown diffuser, which the FIA had tried to regulate and even ban, although the engineers kept finding loopholes in the restrictions.

3. Knock two wheels off the conveyance and these guys like it, too. Alonso is a cycling enthusiast; aside from riding to train, he has also attempted to form a pro cycling team the past two years. Vettel's two-wheel hobby involves the motorized kind--his bike collection includes a custom chopper by Walz Hardcore Cycles and some vintage collectibles.

4. F1 is a show as much as a race, but even when away from the world of cars and racing, Alonso and Vettel have a knack for showmanship as well. Alonso is something of a card-tricks specialist--his idea of a pre-race routine is to go around the garage and put on mini magic shows for his mechanics. What do you know--a magician on the track and off it.

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Vettel, on the other hand, is a British-comedy fan who ends up doing standup comedy when he's supposed to be giving interviews. His specialty: impersonating the likes of Kimi Raikkonen (see 1:14 in the next video) and Helmut Marko (see 6:49 in the second video).

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5. Finally, an F1 driver isn't an F1 driver until he has been roped into doing some truly mortifying PR stunts for his team's sponsors. In Alonso's case, one of the funniest things we've seen him in is the music video for Forza (see video below), in which he had to fake being totally delighted while clapping along to the song and acting out a podium celebration. Granted, he'd had practice spraying alcohol in a 2006 Buckler ad, which also required him to be in costume. But our favorite commercial of his is the one with Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes.

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As for Vettel, blackmail was likely employed to guarantee his participation as a kung-fu hero in the film Drive Of The Dragon, as a roadie/sound guy/eye candy trying to look like he belongs in the music video for Watch Me Work, and as a crazy mechanic in a Tirendo prank (see video below). At least he got the cool-racer treatment in a Total commercial.

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Photo from Infiniti Red Bull Racing

 

Sharleen Banzon
Contributor
An inveterate Formula 1 geek, Sharleen tips the scales at just 50kg because she starves herself to save up for F1 trips.
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Formula 1 Fernando Alonso motorsports Sebastian Vettel
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