Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has announced he will retire from the sport in 2022.
The German driver, who won the drivers’ title in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull, used the first post on his new official Instagram page to make the announcement to the surprise of fans and media personalities alike.
On the social media page that was set up in the early hours of July 28 and had attracted more than 950,000 followers by around 12 p.m. BST, Vettel gave a number of reasons as to why he believes that this is the right time to retire from the sport that he “loves” and has been “central to [my] life since I can remember”.
The Sporting News explores why Vettel is choosing to step away from the sport this year and what his record looks like in F1.
Why is Sebastian Vettel retiring from F1?
Despite now being at the age of 35, many in the F1 community would not have expected Vettel’s retirement announcement.
Under contract with Aston Martin until the end of the 2022 season, rumours had been swirling of a move to another team in the near future. In fact, just last week reports that a move to McLaren in the 2022 off-season were gaining traction.
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During the video on his Instagram page, Vettel started out by confirming he would finish his career “by the end of the 2022 season”.
He went on to say: “I love this sport. It has been central to my life since I can remember. But as much as there is life on track, there is 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’m Sebastian, father of three children and husband to a wonderful woman. I am curious and easily fascinated by passionate or skilled people. I am obsessed with perfection. 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.
Thank you for the memories 🤩
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 28, 2022
“I love being outside and love nature and its wonders. I am stubborn and impatient. I can be really annoying. I like to make people laugh. I like chocolate and the smell of fresh bread. My favourite colour is blue.
“I believe in change and progress and that every little bit makes a difference. I am an optimist and I believe people are good.
“Next to racing, I have grown a family, and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside Formula One. My passion for racing and Formula One 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 it is right, does no longer go 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.
“Children are our future. Further, I feel there is so much to explore and learn, about life and about myself.”
Vettel has previously admitted the climate crisis made him have doubts about continuing in F1, saying: “When I get out of the car, of course I’m thinking as well ‘Is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?'”
He said in his Instagram announcement that he had “learned to dislike” elements of the sport that needed to be addressed.
“I feel we live in very decisive times, and how we all shape these next years will determine our lives,” he said.
“My passion comes with certain aspects that I’ve learned to dislike. They might be solved in the future, but the will to apply that change has to grow much, much stronger and has to be leading to action today.
“Talk is not enough and we cannot afford to wait. There is no alternative. The race is underway. My best race? Still to come. I believe in moving forwards and moving on. Time is a one-way street, and I want to go with the times. Looking back is only going to slow you down.
“I look forward to race [sic] down unknown tracks and I will be finding new challenges. The marks I left on track will stay until time and rain will wash them away. New ones will be put down. Tomorrow belongs to those shaping today. The next corner is in good hands as the new generation has already turned in.
“I believe there is still a race to win. Farewell, and thanks for letting me share the track with you. I loved every bit of it.”
Sebastian Vettel F1 career: Titles, wins, records
One of the greatest drivers in Formula One history, Vettel has won the world drivers’ championship on four occasions.
Those triumphs came in consecutive years, from 2010 to 2013, whilst racing for Red Bull Racing, who dominated the sport in the early part of the last decade.
His four world titles rank him joint-fourth alongside Alain Prost on the list of most championships ever won by a driver in F1 history. Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher head that group with seven titles apiece, while Juan Manuel Fangio won five back in the 1950s.
Vettel also ranks third on the list of most podium appearances with 122, behind only Hamilton with 187 and Michael Schumacher with 155.
When it comes to race victories, Vettel sits third on the F1 all-time list with 53 Grand Prix victories. His first came at the 2008 Italian GP whilst racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso.
If he completes this year’s calendar, he’ll have started 299 Grands Prix in his career, the seventh most in F1 history.
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In 2010, Vettel became the youngest ever driver to win the world championship at the age of 23 years and 134 days. That beat the previous record held by Hamilton when the British driver took his first crown in 2008.
Seb, it’s been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend. Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man. pic.twitter.com/eHVmOpov2m
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 28, 2022
Vettel is also the youngest double world championship winner and triple world championship winner thanks to his further victories in 2011 and 2012.
The German also holds the record for most wins in a season — 13, which he shares with compatriot Michael Schumacher — and the record for most podium appearances in a season with 17 in 2011.
In that mightily impressive 2013 season when he won 13 races, Vettel won nine in a row, another Formula One record, while he still remains the youngest polesitter in the history of the sport.