Formula 1 - Vettel to become a father

After failing to beat him to the title for the last four years, Sebastian Vettel's Formula One rivals may be hoping that fatherhood will slow the German down next year.

The 26-year-old Red Bull driver's spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday that the world champion's long-time girlfriend Hanna Prater, who rarely attends races, was expecting their first child.

The German can look forward to joining a select group of active Formula One drivers with children, currently made up of Frenchman Romain Grosjean, Brazilian Felipe Massa and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.

While some in motor racing hold the view that having children can make a driver less willing to take risks and push to the limit, the evidence suggests Vettel's rivals may be in for further disappointment.

Grosjean has become faster this year with Lotus while Vettel's retired compatriot Michael Schumacher won five of his record seven world championships after the birth of his two children.