Sebastian Vettel has shocked the motor-racing world by announcing his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of this season.
The four-time world champion made the announcement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Vettel, one of the most prodigious German drivers, won four consecutive world titles with Red Bull from 2010-2013 becoming the youngest world champion in the process before spending six seasons with Ferrari.
He joined his current team, Aston Martin, in 2021 on a two-year deal. Despite some flashes of his old self his move has failed to live up to the expectations. The Aston Martin rebrand of the Racing Point coincided with the changing of technical rules which the team struggled to adapt to.
This year has not been different either with AMR22, even with upgrades, unable to score many points. That has left Vettel feeding off scraps in the F1 midfield and after finishing 12th in the championship last year – the worst finish of his full-time F1 career – he sits 14th in the 2022 standings after an inauspicious start to the season.
Though he did not go into whether the current struggles hastened his retirement, Sebastian Vettel did confirm his departure from the sport.
“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula 1 over the past 15 years – there are far too many to mention and thank,” said Vettel.
“The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it.
“At the end of the year, I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next.
“But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula 1 could not exist.”
His announcement prompted a series of congratulatory messages from F1 itself and his immediate bosses at Aston Martin.