Kurt Verlin
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Sebastian Vettel Announces Retirement from Formula 1

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Sebastian Vettel in Aston Martin Racing overalls
Photo: Wikimedia via CC

Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, who once joked he would create an Instagram account only once he retired from the sport, finally created an Instagram account this week — then immediately announced he would retire at the end of the 2022 season.

“I have grown other interests outside Formula 1,” he said in an Instagram video posted on Thursday. “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.”

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Vettel made his F1 debut in 2007 and quickly became the posterchild for the Red Bull Junior Team, winning four championships in a row from 2010 through 2013. He was the youngest race winner in history before Max Verstappen took that record in 2016, and he remains the youngest-ever world champion in F1 history.

His incredible stint at Red Bull Racing includes other records that will likely stand for a long time, such as the most pole positions in a single season (15 in 2011) and most consecutive wins in a season (nine in 2013). He also has the most number of wins in a single season at 13, tied with Michael Schumacher, his childhood hero.

It was Schumacher’s legendary success at Ferrari in the early 2000s that motivated Vettel to seek glory with the same team, and he left Red Bull Racing in 2015 to join the Italian Scuderia. Though he never quite had the machinery to dominate in the way he had at Red Bull, his performances in 2015 and 2017 were nonetheless some of the best of his career.

Vettel then left Ferrari in 2020 to drive for Aston Martin Racing, where he has struggled to make a mark despite being consistently faster than teammate Lance Stroll, whose father owns the team.

Though Vettel is best known for his four world titles, he often receives praise around the F1 paddock for his good humor and off-track activism, which he intends to continue after retiring. “Human rights and the climate crisis are bigger than anything else,” he said earlier this year. And though he’s at peace with his decision to retire, it’s clearly been a difficult one.

“I think for every sportsman and woman, probably the biggest challenge is waiting for us when we decide to do other things,” he said. “That’s what I’m facing and in all honesty, I’m also scared of what’s coming. It might be a hole and I don’t know how deep it is and whether I’ll get out of it. But I have lots of support and people who have supported me along the way and will continue to help me and give me direction and guidance. Hopefully I’ll make the right decisions in the future to progress and become a better version of myself in 10 years time.”