His was the most well-known name among the newcomers to the ADAC GT Masters in 2019 - Fabian Vettel (20, GER, Mann-Filter Team HTP), younger brother of four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel (31, GER), was sharing the cockpit of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Philip Ellis (26, GER). The first season in the ADAC GT Masters convinced Vettel right from the start: "It is a mega competitive and professional series. If you can prove yourself here, you can succeed in GT3 racing anywhere."
Fabian Vettel went into his first season in a GT3 sports car without having done an apprenticeship in karting and after only two seasons in one-make cups. Vettel and Ellis experienced a season of ups and downs. The highlight was clearly the P3 finish in the Sunday race at Zandvoort. Also memorable was a P2 in the Pirelli Junior class at Most in the Czech Republic. Vettel sees the campaign as half and half in sporting terms: "I have mixed feelings about the way it went. At first, we were having a lot of bad luck and were unable to kick-start our season. I was struggling to get into a rhythm, especially as regards qualifying. You have to start from near the front, otherwise you won't get anywhere in the race, especially on tracks where overtaking is difficult."
Tyre management in particular proved problematic for Vettel in the early stages: "It's not easy sensing when you have reached the peak of the tyres and then getting the maximum out of them. That was a new challenge for me, because in a GT3 car you have a maximum of only one or two fast laps which you then have to exploit to the maximum. Sometimes, even that second lap isn't quite so fast anymore, because the tyres have already begun to degrade. We tried out a lot of things during the season, and I learned a lot."
The low point for Vettel came in his home race at Hockenheim: "We had high expectations and thought we might be in for a good result. But after the collision in the first race on Saturday, our weekend was already over because we couldn't get the car repaired in time for Sunday. But we also had good moments. Zandvoort with overall third was not bad. We have seen on several occasions what we were capable of, but sometimes we were struggling. However, I think that's inevitable in your first year of GT3 racing. I learned a lot, especially from the bad moments. Now I have to do better next season and in the seasons after that."
In 2020 he intends to put to good use the experience he gained: "My aim is to continue driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3. I started out in motor racing just three years ago and have so far done something different every year. That's why I'm hoping for some continuity so that I can get the maximum out of my situation. I'll definitely be carrying on in GT3 racing, and I would be happy if I could stay where I am now. But let's see. There are a lot of different factors to weigh up in making a final decision."