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Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel to retire at the end of the season, says the four-time world champion

Sebastian Vettel, the four-time Formula One world champion, has announced his retirement at the end of this season. The 35-year-old German currently drives for the Aston Martin team and debuted in Formula One in 2007. He became the sport’s youngest world champion when he won his first title at the age of 23 years and 134 days, and he has since amassed 53 victories in a glittering career. “It has been a difficult decision for me to retire, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it,” he said in a statement. Vettel made an immediate impact, but success has largely eluded him in the second half of his F1 career. Between 2010 and 2013, he won four titles with Red Bull before joining Ferrari in 2015. In 2017 and 2018, he challenged for the championship with the Scuderia, but was defeated both times by Lewis Hamilton. He stayed with Ferrari until the end of 2020 before joining Aston Martin in 2021, but he hasn’t won a race since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix. However, during his time with Red Bull and Ferrari, he won a staggering 53 races, trailing only Hamilton on 103 and Michael Schumacher on 91. Vettel has become more vocal in recent years about environmental and social issues. He strongly backed Hamilton’s calls for racism and diversity in sport, and he has been forthright about the urgency of the climate emergency. He has recently expressed his ambivalence about competing in Formula One, a sport with a massive carbon footprint due to the amount of air travel involved. These are issues he will most likely continue to pursue, but he did not reveal his future plans. “I want to take some more time at the end of the year to reflect on what I will focus on next,” he said. “As a father, it is very clear to me that I want to spend more time with my family.” But today is not the day to say good-by. Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone, especially the fans, without whom Formula One would not exist.” With a seat now open alongside Lance Stroll at Aston Martin, which is owned by Stroll’s billionaire father Lawrence, who has grand ambitions for the team, his retirement will open up new potential moves in the F1 driver market. Vettel made his debut for BMW at the 2007 US Grand Prix before joining the Toro Rosso team full-time mid-season. A year later, he delivered an absolute masterclass for the team in the wet at Monza, taking his first win and becoming the sport’s youngest GP winner at the time, a title now held by Max Verstappen. He was promoted to the full Red Bull team in 2009 and won four titles while the team and car were at their best, including two utterly dominant seasons in 2011 and 2013, when he won 11 and 13 races, respectively. He will retire from F1 at the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi, which will be his 300th appearance. He is currently 14th in the championship in an uncompetitive Aston Martin, but he paid tribute to the team. “Over the past two years, I’ve been an Aston Martin driver – and, while our results haven’t been as good as we had hoped, it’s very clear to me that everything is being put in place that a team needs to race at the very highest level for years to come,” he said. Stroll stated that he had hoped Vettel would stay with the team, but that he understood Vettel’s desire to move on. “We made it clear to him that we wanted him to stay with us the following year,” he said. “But, in the end, he has done what he believes is best for himself and his family, and we respect that.” He has driven some fantastic races for us, and his experience and expertise with our engineers has been extremely valuable behind the scenes.” Hamilton, who ended Vettel’s dominance by winning the 2014 drivers’ title, wrote on Twitter: “Seb, it’s been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend. The goal is always to leave this sport better than you found it. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man.”