Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has announced his retirement from Formula One in an Instagram post this evening. The 35 year old has had an illustrious 15 year career in the sport, but will leave the limelight to spend more time with his wife and three children.
Vettel holds the record for the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion, winning his first title in 2010 when he was just 23 years old. He went on to win the title the following three years with Red Bull Racing, his four world titles equalling that of the legendary Alain Prost and only succeeded by Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher (7).
His 53 race wins are also the third most in the sports history, only behind Schumacher (91) and Hamilton (103), with his last victory coming at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix for Ferrari. He has also managed to claim 122 podium finishes along the way, most recently in Baku last year.
Vettel took to his newly created Instagram account with a black and white video to break the news.
“I hereby announce my retirement from Formula One by the end of the 2022 season,” he began.
“Probably I should start with a long list of people to thank now, but I feel it is more important to explain the reasons behind my decision. I love this sport, it has been central to my life since I can remember. But as much as there’s life on track, there’s my life off track too. Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity. I very much believe in identity by who we are and how we treat others, rather than what we do.”
““Who am I? I am Sebastian, father of three children and husband to a wonderful woman,” he continued.
“Next to racing, I have grown a family and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside Formula 1. My passion for racing and Formula 1 comes with lots of time spent away from them, and takes a lot of energy.”
“Committing to my passion the way I did and the way I think is right, no longer goes side-by-side with my wish to be a great father and husband. The energy it takes to become one with the car and the team, to chase perfection, takes focus and commitment. My goals have shifted from winning races and fighting for championships to seeing my children grow, passing on my values, helping them up when they fall, listening to them when they need me, not having to say goodbye, and most importantly being able to learn from them and let them inspire me.”
Vettel joined the sport midway through 2007 with Toro Rosso, and immediately impressed after a fourth placed finish in the Chinese Grand Prix, in just his sixth race. The biggest indication of the success that was yet to come was perhaps at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008, where Vettel won his first race, in wet conditions. The win was also the first ever for Toro Rosso. He finished eighth that year, before joining with the Red Bull senior team for the 2009 campaign.
His first season at Red Bull saw him finish second in the championship behind Jenson Button, with four race wins only compromised by a shaky start to the campaign in Australia and Malaysia. From here, the rest is history. The first of four titles came in 2010 and the remainder following consecutively. The 2013 championship was perhaps the best of the lot, with 13 wins in 19 races, including the last nine events of the season. He won the title that year by a massive 155 points over Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari were the next home for the German, with his first campaign in 2015 resulting in a third placed finish, followed by consecutive runner-up results in the two years following. The year 2020 was a disastrous one for Ferrari, with a car which often ran towards the rear of the field. Despite this, Vettel still managed to claim a podium in Turkey and finished the season 13th with 33 points, the lowest season tally of his full-time racing career since he began.
This brought about a change to Aston Martin, where Vettel has spent the final two years of his career. Race pace has been an issue for the outfit, however Vettel still manages to often appear in the point scorers come race weekend. He famously finished second in Hungary in 2021 but was disqualified post-race due to a regulation breach, meaning the last time he stepped foot on the podium was in Round 6 last year. He has 10 races left to try and succeed that.
Whilst Vettel is known for his form on-track, he is also seen to demonstrate an interest in environmental and social justice issues. Most recently at the Austrian Grand Prix where he raced in a bee themed helmet over the race weekend. In addition to this he helped build a hotel for bees with local children in the area.
Vettel also wore a “Canada’s Climate Crime” shirt on the grid in Canada this year, bringing awareness to the countries mining of the Alberta oil sands, and was seen picking up rubbish in the stands following the 2021 British Grand Prix. This year, other media outlets have also provided an outlet for the driver to spread awareness over these issues, with appearances on BBC One and an article in Attitude discussing climate change, energy dependency, Brexit and LGBTQ rights.
What the years to come will hold for Vettel remains uncertain, however with the profile he has developed over recent years it would be seen he won’t become a stranger.
No other words sum up the German driver than those he spoke in his retirement announcement tonight:
“I am tolerant and feel we all have the same rights to live no matter what we look like, where we come from and who we love.”
With that, we wish Sebastian Vettel a happy retirement and look forward to seeing what he can accomplish in the times to come. For now, we will enjoy his last 10 races before he can finally step back and review what has truly been a wonderful career.