Following Aston Martin Racing driver Sebastian Vettel’s retirement message, his fellow drivers have reacted to the shocking move with emotional messages of support and thanks.
The German, who raced a career-defining championship streak between 2010 and 2014, is one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers in history. While his career tapered somewhat post-Red Bull Racing, the memory of watching Vettel’s self-described ‘sensitive’ driving style still rests in the memories of millions of fans, several of whom took to social media to celebrate Vettel’s racing achievements, wholesome personality, and off-grid activism.
With the Hungarian Grand Prix set to kick off this weekend, the grid is currently busy practicing near Budapest and had a chance to share their thoughts on Vettel’s upcoming exit from the sport.
Hamilton and Vettel both made their F1 debuts in 2007 and would go on to share 10 of the next 13 World Championships from 2008 onwards. This led to a lot of shared career moments between the two — especially as they duked it out for the championship with a heated rivalry back in 2018.
“I would say naturally my first feeling is that it’s sad to see he’s stopping. I’ve not had a lot of time to think about all of the journey we’ve gone through together but when I talk about the journey I’ve experienced in this sport and often feeling that it’s been lonely, I would say he’s one of the few people who have made it feel not lonely.
Seb, it’s been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend. Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man.”
Contrary to Hamilton, Leclerc’s relationship with Vettel is one of the biggest student-master dynamics in Formula 1 with the pair sharing a two-year span as teammates between 2019 and 2020.
“It’s sad, it’s sad for me. Maybe for him he’s much happier in the place he’s going now. Obviously it’s going to be strange not to see Seb inside the paddock. I’ve learned so much driving with him and he’s always been super nice with me. I’ll definitely miss Seb in the paddock, I wish him all the best. I’m sure he will find other things that will make him happy in a different way.”
Lando Norris’ earliest interactions with Vettel happened when he was extremely young. He idolised the German driver as a child, and came to understand him as a friend and human being following his own introduction into F1.
“I don’t think enough people know how good Seb is just as a human, as a guy,” Norris explained. “His morals and his character and everything. He means so well in everything. And he’s just very passionate about his job.
“So maybe he feels more open to speak to us, the younger generation, about things, whether it’s with racing, or life away from Formula 1. He’s always open for a chat, which is always something you admire, and have a lot of respect for when you’re also such big competitors at the same time.”
The 42-year-old Spaniard just doesn’t seem to quit despite being seven years older than Vettel during the latter’s final season. Both have duked it out on several separate occasions, delivering fans with great competitive races during 2010 and 2012, although Vettel came out on top.
“Yeah, what to say… we will miss him after so many years, sharing the track together, good fights. Obviously in all his championships I was somehow in there as well. He’s a great champion and also a great man, with very strong values, lovely family – that is the decision also, into this, I heard [it’s about] his family. So wishing him the best and hopefully he’s around in the paddock in the future.”
Many think of Verstappen as the successor to Vettel’s legacy at Red Bull and expect the Dutchman to carry on winning championships just as Vettel did around a decade ago.
“He has achieved so much. It is understandable to retire. He had an amazing career. He is a great ambassador. To see him go? You can see it coming. We get older, we retire. It is never nice when that moment comes. It is important he enjoys his family. F1 is such a short period in your life. Now it’s time to enjoy it.”
“I feel very proud of Seb and what he’s achieved. He’s a great legend of the sport, a great guy. He’s always been very fair, very vocal. He’s been very successful, has a beautiful family.
“It’s everything you would hope for a colleague to achieve, so I’m very proud of him. I wish him the best, to him and his family.”
“He’s achieved so much in this sport, he’s been a great teammate. I’ve enjoyed working alongside Seb for the last year and a half. It’s been great. He’s achieved so much.
This is a chapter in his life that he’s moving on from and he has a family at home & other things to look forward to. It’s been an incredible career for him.”
“I wish him all the best. For me, since the beginning, he has been a great role model.
I was privileged enough to be the simulator driver when he was at his peak, at Red Bull. I got an insight into how to be successful like he was. In those years he would stop to talk with me, to give me advice. He is an ambassador for the younger generation.
Everyone in the paddock loves him. You won’t hear anyone speak bad about Seb.”
“Such an inspiration and humble bloke. No one has got a bad word to say about Seb. He’s good fun to be around. He will be looking forward to everything he’s got planned in the future.”
“As I said, an inspiration.”
“You know in a way it’s sad of course because you’re losing a bit of a legend of the sport. It’s one of those ones you’re sad but also happy for him to start ‘chapter two’ of his life!”
“Always a good driver to race against and race with. With him, there’s always respect, he’s always going to race hard but fair. Really enjoyed the battles. Such a nice guy, one of those drivers that’s not afraid of speaking.”
(Featured Image Credits: Formula 1, FIA)