The shock announcement of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement certainly spiced up what was said to be a fairly mundane season for driver changes. The quadruple world champion surprised the paddock at the Hungarian GP just before Formula One’s summer break when he declared his time in F1 was drawing to a close.
Sebastian left his home at Red Bull to drive for F1’s most iconic team for the 2015 season. His six seasons with Ferrari saw the German finish 2nd in the drivers’ championship twice but his poor showing in 2020 where he managed just P13 in the drivers’ title race meant the writing was on the wall.
Vettel’s options limited
Options were limited for Vettel with him settling on the offer from Aston martin’s owner Lawrence Stroll. Yet despite investing in a new factory at Silverstone and the recruitment of key personnel from Mercedes and Red Bull Racing, Aston have failed to deliver a car that is competitive at a variety of circuits.
Sebastian was given a fond farewell for Formula One in Abu Dhabi as in his 299th grand prix start he claimed points for the team despite their poor strategy.
In recent weeks Vettel has been repeatedly asked whether his decision to retire was premature. Speaking through Aston martin’s website the German revealed, “I still love the sport. I still love racing.”
“The decision to retire was a tough one, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I know how much commitment this sport requires, and I feel like it’s a good time to do other things.
A “competitive” car may have made the difference
The big question is whether Sebastian would have concluded his F1 career if he’d been given a car capable of challenging for podiums and race wins.
“Would I be retiring if I had been very competitive over the last three or four years, winning races, fighting for championships, maybe winning another one? I might have come to the same decision,” he admitted
“Equally, I might not have. It’s impossible to say but it has crossed my mind.
“Finishing 10th doesn’t give me a buzz because I know how it feels to finish first, but I’m happy I don’t get a buzz from finishing 10th.”
Vettel’s focus switches
As the wins and top finishing position dried up, Sebastian has turned his attention to raising awareness on social issues from climate change to LGBT rights.
“I think the last two years have been maybe disappointing from a sporting point of view, but very, very useful and important to me in my life,” says Seb.
“A lot of things happened, a lot of things that I realised. I think it’s a huge privilege being in the position that we are in and with that comes some responsibility, so I hope to pass on a little bit to the other drivers to carry on some of the good work.
“It’s great to see that we have the power to inspire you with what we do and what we say. I think there are far bigger, and far more important things than racing in circles.
“But obviously, it’s what we love and through that, if we can transfer some of the really important values, that’s big. And I think that the last two years have been great for me.
“So, thank you for the support. Thank you for the messages, the letters and all the love in general.
“I will miss that, but it’s been an absolute joy throughout my career, so thank you.”
From lines such as: "Kevin, that was some ***** Viking comeback!!!" 💪
To Max Verstappen's cheeky radio about spraying his engineer GP on the podium 😆
It's time to relive some of our favourite team radio messages from the season! 🍿#F1
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 28, 2022