I've been watching Formula One for the last 14 years. I have seen many drivers who came from the Driver Academies of Mercedes or Ferrari, with championship wins in GP3 and GP2. But when they enter into F1 they never ever win a race, let alone the championship.
Nico Hulkenburg is one such example. I enjoyed his driving, his radio messages, his style, but he never succeeded regularly. Jarno Trulli and Felipe Massa are other examples.
I think Mark Webber was an exceptional driver. But his car failed more than Vettel's did. Juan Pablo Montoya was absolutely fantastic but again, he never won the F1 Championship.
How does this whole thing work?
Should one be at the right place at the right time?
Or is your hard work not the only thing?
Personal attributes, corporate inclination, political stand, nationality, media coverage?
It cannot be money. Lewis Hamilton is from a very humble background and he has won the F1 Championship many times. Timo Glock was his rival in GP2 but in F1, Lewis overshadowed him.
I checked the list of drivers who competed in the 2006 GP2 Series when Lewis won. Out of 27 drivers, only Lewis and Timo Glock made it to F1.
So what matters the most in getting success in F1?