Fifteen years after his debut in the queen class of motorsport, the quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel will end his career in F1 at the end of the current season, he announced Thursday.
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“The decision to stop F1 at the end of the year was difficult and I thought about it a lot. At the end of the year, I want to take the time to think about what I want to do next,” Vettel said in a statement from his Aston Martin team released ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend.
“As a father, I want to spend more time with my family. Today is not about saying goodbye, but rather saying thank you to everyone, starting with the fans without whom Formula 1 could not exist.
Vettel, 35, won four world championship titles in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull and 53 Grands Prix. Only Briton Lewis Hamilton (103 wins) and his compatriot Michael Schumacher (91) have done better than him.
After moving to Ferrari from 2015 to 2020, he joined Aston Martin in 2021 without winning any races there so far.
Disappointment at Ferrari
Vettel notably failed during his time at Ferrari to offer the Italian team a new world drivers’ title, which would have been the first since that of Finn Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
Archive photo, Martin Chevalier
Thanked by the Italian brand in rather stormy conditions while the Scuderia was at the bottom of the wave, Vettel had found refuge at Aston Martin, the team of Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll whose son, Lance, is currently his teammate.
After a difficult 2021 season which he ended in 12th place in the world championship, Vettel is not doing better this season and currently occupies 14th place in the provisional classification with only 15 points.
A difficult end to his career for the man who dominated F1. After taking part in test sessions with the Swiss team Sauber, Vettel made his racing debut at Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) in 2007 before becoming, at the time, the youngest winner of a Grand Prix in history (Monza, 2008) at the age of 21, two months and 11 days. This record has since been broken by Dutchman Max Verstappen.
He remains one of the most successful drivers in terms of world championships behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton (7 each), Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and tied with Alain Prost.
But his time at Ferrari, while resulting in 14 Grand Prix victories, did not lead to any additional titles, with Vettel twice finishing on the second step of the podium (2017 and 2018) behind Lewis Hamilton and his mercedes.
The British champion hailed his hapless rival on Thursday saying “it’s been an honor to be able to compete with you and an even greater honor to be able to call you my friend”.
His last year there had been disastrous (13th in the championship) and it was in a very tense atmosphere that the German had left a Scuderia already turned towards the young Monaco hopeful Charles Leclerc.
Discreet – he is the only driver who does not want to be present on social networks -, very jealous of his private and family life, Vettel nevertheless passes for a true connoisseur of the history of motorsport and an avid collector of motorcycles. and cars.
Like Lewis Hamilton, he does not hesitate to get involved in defending causes such as ecology and environmental protection. As such, he is a great promoter of synthetic fuels, considered to be the way of the future for Formula 1.
In this regard, he stressed on Thursday, in a barely veiled appeal to F1 officials, that “concerning the future, we are living through decisive moments. How we act in the next few years will determine our lives. Along with my passion comes some aspects that I have learned to dislike. This can be resolved in the future, but the will to make these changes must be much much stronger and lead to action today. Talking is not enough and we cannot wait. There is no other choice, the race is on”.
Sebastian Vettel in brief
Date of birth: July 3, 1987
Place of birth: Heppenheim (Germany)
2022 stable: Aston Martin (Mercedes engine)
Race number: 5
World Champion 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
GPs contested: 289
Teams: BMW-Sauber (August 2006-July 2007), Toro Rosso (August 2007-2008), Red Bull (2009-2014), Ferrari (2015-2020), Aston Martin (since 2021)
Grand Prix debut: Turkish GP in August 2006
Racing debut: USA 2007 (8th)
First win: Italy 2008
Last victory: Singapore 2019
Podiums (wins included): 122
Pole positions: 57
Best rounds: 38
Points scored: 3076
Ranking in the Drivers’ World Championship: 1st (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), 2nd (2009, 2017, 2018), 3rd (2015), 4th (2016), 5th (2014, 2019), 8th (2008), 12th (2021), 13th (2020), 14th (2007, 2022, to July 28)