Sebastian Vettel opened up on the decision to retire from F1 and how did COVID-19 gave him time along with the environment points and more.
F1’s biggest news story this week was without a shadow of a doubt, the announcement by Vettel of his impending retirement at the end of the 2022 campaign. It is the end of an era and what an era it has been since June 2007 when the German was called in to replace Robert Kubica at the United States GP.
So much to think about before the final decision is made. Vettel is now a family man with a wife and has young children who were one of the big reasons to stop. The decision to hang up helmet and overalls would not have been an easy one.
And of course, he is a man with principles, with the driver now concerned about the environment hugely which is almost hypocritical perhaps due to the nature of his profession but he is a man who is serious about it.
As per above, he is a family man and without a doubt, who were part of the decision making process. But the question would also remain as to when the decision to call it a day took place. With the COVID 19 pandemic still raging the world over and with so much of life on hold, this was a time which gave Vettel time to reflect on where he was at and where he was going in life.
One of the focal people to know about the decision early on was team boss Lawrence Stroll. But not just him, the rest of the Aston Martin team, right across from the top to the bottom were alerted then on. Of course, the question now is who will be teammate to Lance Stroll in 2023 but for now it is the races that remain for Vettel in the sport.
Here’s what Vettel said about the decision:
Timeline and Decision –
Vettel: “The timeline takes us years back and it’s not a decision I took overnight obviously. The final decision was taken yesterday (Wednesday) by telling the team I am going to stop and not going to continue. But it was a lot of thought leading into this so I think it is the right time for me to do other things. Obviously, I know how intense and how much dedication goes into this and if you do this, I am convinced to do it the right way. I don’t get much pleasure, motivation from being here and part of it so the aim has always been to win and compete at the front. I think I have been very privileged to have had so many great cars and teams in the past that I was able to achieve so many things. I think in terms of greatness, this team does not fall short of any one competitor that was before but obviously our package was not as strong as we would like it to be so we didn’t race for front positions but in terms of effort, team spirit and quality, they have all the right ingredients and I do see the team making progress next years and years to come.
“But as I said so much dedication going in, an awful lot of time spent in your head, in your thoughts when you are physically away from kids, family, and I have grown other things you know, the children are growing and there are other interests and news and I can’t ignore these voices so that ultimately yes, the questions got bigger and bigger and more central to a point where I made the decision. It’s not a 100% decision that I hate racing from now on. I still love racing but it is probably the majority that pulls me in a different direction. I’m not making way because it is my decision, I am happy to head in a different direction.”
Environmental concerns, part of decision process –
Vettel: “That is one of the factors that definitely played a role. I don’t know, I cannot give you a number in terms of percentage as I think that would be silly but for sure seeing the World changing and seeing the future in a very threatened position for all of us and for generations to come. I understand that my passions, my job is coming with things that I am not a fan of, obviously I am travelling the World, racing cars, burning resources literally are things I cannot look away from. Once that you see these things, you are aware and you cannot unsee. It is not the main factor but like I said it a combination of many things but it is also part of being the driver so.”
Family reactions –
Vettel: “It’s not something I decided overnight. I guess the type of person I am, I like to what is coming, I like to have certainty about what is next and that is very difficult now because there is zero certainty about what is next and to make friends with that was not easy and is still not easy. It feels like the right thing to do so I spend a lot of time talking to my wife and you know she has probably been the first supporter in terms of carrying on and said that it’s my decision. I think that I am incredibly lucky that I found something that means so much to me in my life and gave me so much joy, a platform to make friends, meet all sorts of people, travel the world, see things, open my horizon and I think she has been very supportive saying that it has to be my decision, of course she has an opinion but she stated in the end it’s for you to decide and I cannot decide for you.”
Covid-19 pandemic, time to reflect –
Vettel: “Yeah, I think we all had that chance. I know its been very different to say we had three months or whatever it was without racing and how does that feel like. It is very different because I wasn’t missing anything, its not like other were racing and I wasn’t. So it was a break and it was nice to get a break and spend time with family and enjoy the break but like I said it would have been different if I was at home and others were racing which will be the fact of the situation next year but I think it gave us all the time to reflect on where we, where we are and what we want to do and gave us an insight. I think it is probably surprising to see how all this has disappeared and been brushed away by the normal day kicking back in which is good in one way and not good in other ways so yes.
“I mean before then I was already having the first questions and thoughts, even before 2020 and the pandemic but they have grown a lot with the fact that I made a decision in 2020 to carry on rather than stopping, changing team, finding a new challenge, new environment but there was still a lot of questions that I had hope in myself and wanted to answer. I feel that I have a very clear picture today about them. Obviously I haven’t been winning races since then but I don’t think I had to or needed to, it was more between me and myself so I can sort these things out. I know what I can do and I cannot do. I know what it takes to be amongst the best so I am not shy of that. I am looking forward to the races that I have left to show that and do it the way I want to do it, enjoy those races and do it together with the team and then that is it.”
Speech to Aston Martin –
Vettel: “It was the most important thing to do, to chat to the team, it’s my team, the team I am racing for, the team that give so much day in day out and I wanted them to know that and hear from me. I’ve been in situations where I have found out and heard from others through the media and that is not a classy way of doing it.”
Motivation for remaining 10 races and Bee Keeping –
Vettel: “I don’t know who is the World biggest bee keeper but will check out the competition but I dint see that I will have a problem to motivate myself for the next 10 races. I feel the opposite. This decision has been in my head for so long now that it has taken so much energy and maybe time has distracted me a bit that I quite relieved and looking forward to the next races so maybe the opposite of what you say.”
Here’s what F1 drivers said about Sebastian Vettel
Here’s news from Sebastian Vettel about his F1 retirement