UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The Red Bulls had a guest player take the field on Monday morning at training and after a tough 90-minute session with New York — Formula 1 racing star Sebastian Vettel didn’t even look gassed. In fact, with a wide smile on his face throughout training, the sport’s top driver looked set for an afternoon session as well.
The superstar of the Formula 1 circuit put in a hard training session with the Red Bulls, trying to keep up with the pace and fitness of a team which currently sits tied atop the Eastern Conference. Vettel, who at 23 years old was the youngest-ever Formula 1 racing champion last year, was unsure what Monday would hold.
“It’s the first time I’ve done it,” Vettel told MLSsoccer.com. "It is hard to anticipate anything. It was nice to see how they move on the field and the control they have on the ball."
Vettel drives for Red Bull racing, who helped set up the promotional visit.
His participation in training was full, from early sprints and warmup drills to playing in small-sided games of keep away. He even took three penalty kicks, the first of which he snuck by goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. Despite his active Formula 1 schedule, Vettel plays pickup soccer with his friends back at home and thinks he may now have a leg up on the kick-around competition.
“Some things you pick up right on the field, other things you pick up later,” Vettel said. “Maybe [there are] some things I can take to the field.” Vettel also said that he’d like to incorporate some of what the Red Bulls did in training into his own training regimen.
A lifelong fan of the sport, he is hopeful that his favorite club, Eintracht Frankfurt of his native Germany — who employ former MetroStar Ricardo Clark — will rise again after a disappointing season which saw them relegated to the second division.
The Formula 1 racer joins NBA star and partial Vancouver Whitecaps owner Steve Nash among celebrity-athletes who have trained with the Red Bulls. Nash trained with New York last summer and even impressed the coaching staff with his skills.