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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season, saying on Thursday his goals had changed and he wanted to focus more on family and interests outside the sport.
The 35-year-old German, who drives for the Aston Martin team, won his titles with Red Bull from 2010-2013 and also spent six seasons with Ferrari. He made the announcement ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the 13th round of the season and last race before the August break.
Vettel, who has become increasingly outspoken on a range of topics from the environment to LGBTQ+ rights, said F1 was increasingly in conflict with his personal life. Vettel said in May that climate change made him question his job as a racing driver.
Asked then whether his position on the environment and global warming made him a hypocrite, considering he was part of a “gas-guzzling” sport in a team sponsored by Saudi oil giant Aramco, he conceded that it did.
Sebastian Vettel’s announcement in full
“I hereby announce my retirement from F1 by the end of the 2022 season. Probably I should start with a long list of people to thank now but I feel it is more important to explain the reasons behind my decision.
“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’s 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.
“I love being outside and love nature and its wonders.
“I’m 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 F1.
“My passion for racing and F1 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.
“Speaking of the future, I feel we live in very decisive times and how we all shape these next years will determine our lives.
“My passion comes with certain aspects that I’ve learnt 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 under way.
“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 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.”
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.