By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel announced Thursday that he’ll retire from the sport at the end of 2022. Citing family time being a main reason to call it a career after 15 years.
The Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team driver made his decision on social media, something he’s never done before as for the longest of time, he’s been absent from outlets such as Instagram. The outlet where he made the announcement in both English and German.
“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula One over the past 15 years – there are far too many to mention and thank,” said Vettel in a press release.
“Over the past two years I have been an Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team 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.”
At 35 years old, Vettel’s has accomplished a lot since making his F1 debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
Filling in for the injured Robert Kubica at 19 years old, Vettel brought the BMW Sauber home to an eighth-place finish. At the time, such feat made him the youngest points scorer in the sport’s history.
A year later, driving for Toro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri), Vettel put his name on the map by winning the wet Italian Grand Prix from pole position. The weekend was a defining moment for his rookie campaign that saw him finish eighth in the world championship.
This led Vettel being promoted to Red Bull Racing where for the next six seasons, he really established himself as one of the greats in F1.
From 2010-13, Vettel re-wrote the record books by winning four titles and racked up 34 out of his 53 wins in that span. In 2013 alone, Vettel won 13 races including the last nine grand prix races that season.
Vettel’s reign as the top gun in F1 ended in 2014, the year when the Hybrid Era began as the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dominated the campaign. For the first time since 2007, Vettel ended up winless and left Red Bull to join Scuderia Ferrari where he won 14 times.
Although remembered by many for catastrophic moments such as Singapore 2017 and Hockenheim 2018, Vettel was one of Hamilton’s true threats for the championship in that time period.
To this day, his final grand prix win took place at Singapore in 2019 with Ferrari.
After finishing a miserable 13th in 2020, Vettel joined Aston Martin in attempt to re-ignite that spark for wins and podiums. It hasn’t been quite the success story as a podium in Baku last year remain one of the few highlights in the tenure that’ll wrap up in December at Abu Dhabi.
Team Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll, father of Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll, said that while he would’ve liked Vettel to stick around for 2023, he respects the decision to retire.
“I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team over the past year and a half,” said 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. 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.”
Despite the recent struggles over the past few years, Vettel have nothing but good things to say about the organization and will continue to so for the final 10 rounds.
“I have really enjoyed working with such a great bunch of people. Everyone – Lawrence, Lance, Martin, 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,” said Vettel.
“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.”
When Vettel isn’t piloting the No. 5 machine, he’s been known as a true ambassador in the sport. Ranging from voicing his opinions about safety to human rights alongside Hamilton and other racers.
Vettel has also taken fellow German Mick Schumacher, whose father Michael was Vettel’s racing idol growing up, under his wing. As seen when Mick finally scored points in F1 at Silverstone earlier this month.
Even when it’s not sharing a voice, the wealth of knowledge the German displayed over the years have been paramount. To the point that he can name of every single world champion from 1950 to present day without hesitation.
All traits and attributes that’ll be missed by fans and folks in the paddock. Once he completes his 300th and final grand prix, the mindset shifts from Vettel, the race car driver who’ll go down as a true legend, to Vettel, the family man among other things.
“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,” said Vettel.
“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 One could not exist.”