Sebastian Vettel entered the firey pit of hell that is Formula One at a young age. A prolific racer in the junior categories, Vettel’s talent was quickly spotted and it led to test driver duties for the BMW Sauber team in 2006 at 19 years old. He made a one-off race debut for the team in 2007. One year later Vettel was competing in his first F1 season with Red Bull’s sister team Torro Rosso, which subsequently rebranded as Alfa Tauri. At age 21 years, Vettel notched the first of his career wins at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix. Doing so made Vettel the youngest F1 race winner ever.
Red Bull beckoned in 2009 and the rest is Formula One and Red Bull history, 4 consecutive championships, and a total of 38 wins. He joined Ferrari between 2015 and 2020 scoring 13 wins, the third most successful Ferrari driver of all time, but the championship eluded him. After a disappointing 2020 campaign, Vettel was effectively replaced by Carlos Sainz.
Aston Martin F1 called and Vettel answered by joining the team which was upcycled from Racing Point. However, 2021 proved to be time spent mostly in the upper mid-field with one podium for his efforts. The 2022 season has seen an off-form Aston Martin barrel rolling up the field and just as easily down it. However, Vettel has looked sharp and his racing pedigree has seemingly returned. So why retire now?
Everybody has their time, in elite professional sports time is very limited. If an F1 driver has a ten-year career then that is considered to be a great success, wins or no wins. Vettel has over 16 years of living the F1 dream, but feels now is the time to call it a day. Besides, it will take years for Aston Martin to become competitive, and maybe Vettel’s long-term focus has changed.
However, in the short term, two races remain and Vettel is determined to give it his best before his time is up. During a recent media interview Vettel revealed his approach and mindset as retirement looms:
“I will give everything I have. I have no reason to hold back anything. Nothing has changed compared to say last year.
“I’m not changing, I’m not going anywhere, so I say what I think.
“As far as the physical is concerned, I do a sport that you could still return to after a two-year break. However, I wish that in two years I would still say: ‘No thanks, I don’t need racing anymore.”
“Definitely I will not stand in front of the camera as a pundit with a microphone in my hand and give my two cents.”
“If you liked doing something, you can also be attached to it. I want to go the other way, detach myself and find out.”
“There are enough other exciting things, I manage to open the next door and find my happiness there.”