Sebastian Vettel, four-time World Drivers Champion and current Aston Martin driver, today announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 season after a storied 15 year career.
Vettel, who debuted in 2007 as a stand-in for Robert Kubica at BMW, finishes his career with four consecutive championships with Red Bull and 53 wins and as the youngest ever champion at 23 and 134 days when he first triumphed in 2010. A heralded move to Ferrari in 2014 saw the champion come closest to dislodging Lewis Hamilton during years of Mercedes dominance but ended acrimoniously. The last two seasons spent at Aston Martin have seen less race success but in a statement Vettel acknowledged that, "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."
The German, 35, announced his decision in a black and white monologue posted on a new Instagram account, where he explained at length his decision to move on from the sport at the end of the 2022 season. Vettel indicated a shift in mindset that had reshaped his priorities, including family and his increasingly high-profile environmental campaigning. In this video, he said,
"My goals have shifted from winning races and Championships to seeing my children grow, passing on my values and being able to learn from them."
Tributes immediately poured in from the motorsport world, including Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll, who thanked him for his contribution to the reborn Aston Martin F1 team, and promised ‘a fabulous send-off’ at Vettel’s 300th and final race in Abu Dhabi this year. Other plaudits came from current drivers such as Carlos Sainz, who in an interview named him as a ‘role model’ early in his career.
Sebastian Vettel's retirement leaves a free space for the 2023 season at Aston Martin, but no such replacement has been announced.