Sebastian Vettel opens up about 'difficult' decision to retire; fans thank 4-time F1 champion
Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has announced his plan to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 season.
Sebastian Vettel on Thursday announced his decision to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 campaign. Before this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, the four-time F1 world champion announced via his recently formed Instagram account that he would leave the competition at the end of the current campaign.
Vettel made his Formula One debut in 2007, and between 2010 and 2013, while competing for Red Bull, he reached the pinnacle of his career. In 2015, he joined Ferrari, but in 2021, he will switch to Aston Martin.
The announcement represents a significant turn in the F1 driver market for the upcoming season, opening up a place with Aston Martin alongside Lance Stroll.
“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula 1 over the past 15 years – there are far too many to mention and thank,” said Vettel. “Over the past two years I have been an Aston Martin driver – and although our results have not been as good as we had hoped, it is very clear to me that everything is being put together that a team needs to race at the very highest level for years to come," said Vettel in a moving video on his Instagram account.
“I have really enjoyed working with such a great bunch of people. Everyone – Lawrence [Stroll], Lance [Stroll], Martin [Whitmarsh], Mike [Krack], the senior managers, the engineers, the mechanics and the rest of the team – is ambitious, capable, expert, committed and friendly, and I wish them all well. I hope that the work I did last year and am continuing to do this year will be helpful in the development of a team that will win in the future, and I will work as hard as I can between now and the end of the year with that goal in mind, giving as always my best in the last 10 races," Vettel added.
“The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it; at the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next; it is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family. But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula 1 could not exist," the Aston Martin driver concluded.
At the 2007 United States Grand Prix, Vettel made his Formula One debut in a one-off appearance for BMW before later that year receiving a mid-season promotion to Toro Rosso.
In 2008, while driving for Toro Rosso, he became the sport's youngest-ever champion. The next year, he switched to Red Bull, where he reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the world championship every year from 2010 through 2013.
Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 and competed for the world championship in 2017 and 2018, but Lewis Hamilton, a competitor of Mercedes, prevailed on both occasions. At the end of 2020, he left Maranello to join Aston Martin, where he will finish out his F1 career.
"Thank You, Vettel"
"I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin over the past year and a half," said Aston Martin executive chairman and team owner Lawrence Stroll.
"We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that. He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable," Stroll added.
"He is one of the all-time greats of Formula One, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him. He will continue to race for us up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be his 300th grand prix entry. We will give him a fabulous send-off," Stroll concluded.
Formula One fans took to Twitter to thank the F1 icon. Here's a look at some of the reactions: