Sebastian Vettel’s greatest success is a distant memory but the four-time world champion will leave Formula One at the end of the year following his fans in its heyday.
Vettel won his last title almost a decade ago with Red Bull while it has been almost three years since the 35-year-old German, then at Ferrari, last won a race.
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News of his departure on Thursday at the end of the season nevertheless prompted a shower of praise, with the Aston Martin driver hailed as a ‘legend’, ‘inspiration’, ‘ambassador’, ‘all-time great and ‘class’. One was declared. act’
“Everybody in the paddock loves him,” Spaniard Carlos Sainz, a Red Bull simulator driver, told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Thursday after Vettel won back-to-back championships with the team. had been.
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“You won’t hear anyone say anything bad about apples.”
“I think it just speaks to his personality, not just his life as a driver,” added the 27-year-old, who replaced the German at Ferrari last year.
Old rival and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said Vettel was “leaving the sport better than you found it which is always the goal.”
“Such an inspiration and such a humble guy,” added British Mercedes team-mate George Russell.
The tone of the tribute reflects Vettel’s transformation since making his Formula One debut in 2007.
A staunch ‘petrolhead’, lover of rock classics and keen student of sports history, he once named his cars ‘Randy Mandy’ and ‘Kinky Kylie’ and drove away the loud, gas-guzzling V10s. Mourned the passing of
The father of three, married to his childhood sweetheart, is now outspoken on topics ranging from the environment and sustainability to LGBTQ+ rights.
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He collects litter from the stands after races, cycles to work and has completed internships in organic farming and bee habitat creation.
The German even used the sustainable fuel by making a demo run in Nigel Mansell’s 1992 British Grand Prix-winning Williams, now owned by Vettel, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of that victory at Silverstone.
“I think we live in a very decisive time and how we all shape up in the coming years will determine our lives,” Vettel said in announcing his retirement.
“My (F1) passion comes with certain aspects that I’ve learned to dislike.”
Vettel was seen by some as a ‘villain’ in 2013, taking victory away from team-mate Mark Webber in Malaysia in 2013 and running into Hamilton’s Mercedes in Baku in 2018.
He would still leave as the youngest world champion, with his 53 wins placing him third on the all-time list led by Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, his boyhood hero.
Only Schumacher, Hamilton and 1950s great Juan Manuel Fangio have won more titles.
“He’s achieved so much in the sport that it’s really understandable for him to retire,” said Red Bull’s reigning champion Max Verstappen.
“He’s had a great career, he’s won a lot of races, he’s won a lot of championships … he’s a great ambassador for the sport.”
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