Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from the sport by the end of the 2022 season. The statement came from his brand new Instagram account, which took people by surprise as he did not have any prior direct social media presence.
The news has left fans of Seb and F1 utterly shocked, as it means the end of an epic saga, spanning fifteen years, and signals the end of an era.
Sebastian Vettel is certainly amongst the best drivers the sport has seen. His achievements over the years unequivocally exemplify him as an F1 legend. With 53 career wins, 122 podiums, 4 driver championships, 57 poles and 3076 career points so far, like his peers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, Vettel is often compared to the greats of the sport like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, and most prominently Michael Schumacher, who was Seb’s idol.
The German driver had one of the most outstanding and mighty dominations with his run at Red Bull, which netted him four consecutive driver championships from 2010 to 2013. His peak was unrivalled during this period as he continued to dominate even when he was up against world-class drivers, some of whom were champions before and after Seb’s heydays.
This was especially evident in his 2013 season, where he won 13 races – and 9 of those back to back. This stat alone remains unbroken for the records of most race wins in a season and most race wins in a row, respectively. To this date, he remains F1’s youngest pole sitter and also the youngest F1 champion.
Sebastian’s greatness is not confined to the track alone. He is also active in the betterment of his fellow drivers. Since 2010, he has served as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) and helped improve the landscape of F1. His humble and friendly attitude makes him a likeable individual, and his funny and quirky sides present him as that much endearing. Almost every driver on the grid considers him a friend and regards him as an irreplaceable asset to the sport.
Concerned about global issues, Vettel also actively works on making meaningful changes. He is an advocate of human rights and is widely outspoken about climate change. He remains involved in several charitable services and does not shy away from promoting and bringing awareness to the causes he supports.
No driver can remain in their prime forever. As time passes, cracks start to show in their form which indicates the end of their glory days. This phase arrived in Seb’s career during his Ferrari stint and was especially evident in the races of Singapore 2017 and Germany 2018. Despite such dismay, he continued to score wins for Ferrari and also earned Aston Martin’s first and only podium in 2021.
Poised as the successor of Schumacher, Seb was always burdened with high expectations. It is difficult to compare drivers from different eras as the number of races and race formats change over time. However, most agree that he could not match his fellow German.
Maybe Vettel could have achieved more in different circumstances, but honestly, he does not have much left to prove. He has made a permanent mark on F1’s history with what he has already demonstrated. It makes sense for him to retire as he is now more focused on his family. Moreover, being unable to give a hundred percent for lack of a strongly motivated team backing him may have also influenced his decision.
Nevertheless, Vettel retires from the sport with dignity as one of the best drivers we have ever seen. He leaves behind a legacy to be remembered and celebrated for ages, that has impacted the course of the sport for the better.