GERMANY: German F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion, will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the current season.
The German, who made his professional racing debut with BMW Sauber at the 2007 US Grand Prix, announced the news on his brand-new Instagram account, which marked his first venture into social media.
Vettel, who has 53 victories and is third on the list of Grand Prix winners, won all four of his titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.
He failed to win the highly desired fifth title during a six-year run with Ferrari, and during his one and a half years with Aston Martin, where his contract expires at the end of 2022, he only managed one podium finish.
Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel – who races alongside Lance Stroll – announced this will be his 15th and final entire season in Formula 1.
“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula 1 over the past 15 years – there are far too many to mention and thank,” said Vettel.
“Over the past two years, I have been an Aston Martin driver – and although our results have not been as good as we had hoped, 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.”
Vettel said that he enjoyed working with everyone at Aston Martin.
“Everyone – Lawrence [Stroll], Lance [Stroll], Martin [Whitmarsh], Mike [Krack], the senior managers, the engineers, the mechanics, and the rest of the team – are ambitious, capable, expert, committed, and friendly, and I wish them all well.”
“I hope that the work I did last year and am continuing to do this year will be helpful in the development of a team that will win in the future, and I will work as hard as I can between now and the end of the year with that goal in mind, giving as always my best in the last 10 races.”
Vettel said that his decision to take retirement had been a difficult one and he had spent a lot of time thinking about it.
“At the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next; it is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family.
“But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula 1 could not exist.”
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Talking about Vettel’s decision, Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll said, “I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin over the past year and a half. We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that.”
“He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable. He is one of the all-time greats of Formula 1, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him.”
Team Principal Mike Krack said, “Sebastian is a superb driver – fast, intelligent and strategic – and of course we are going to miss those qualities. However, we have all learnt from him, and the knowledge that we have gained from working with him will continue to benefit our team long after his departure.“
“Aston Martin is a great project, with unlimited potential, and the groundwork that Sebastian has done last year, and is still doing this year, is crucial. When we become fully competitive – and we will – one of the architects of that future success will be Sebastian, and we will always be grateful to him for that.”