Four-time world champion Vettel announced his decision to stop racing in Formula 1 via a video posted on Instagram early Thursday, after informing Aston Martin management on Wednesday.
The German indicated that thinking about his future has been a distraction in recent weeks and that, having called for a hiatus, he can approach the remaining races of the season in a more relaxed mood.
Asked if he made the call to stop him possibly lacking motivation for the remaining races of the 2022 season, Vettel noted that by contrast, he is now more relaxed.
“I don’t think I’ll have a problem motivating myself in the next 10 races. I feel a little bit the opposite,” he said.
“I feel like this decision has obviously been in my head for a long time now, and it took a lot of energy to be honest, maybe even at times a little distracted, and I’m totally relaxed and looking forward to the next racing step. So maybe it’s more the opposite.”
Vettel explained that while he still loves motor racing, “voices” in the shape of his family and interests outside the sport played a role in the decision.
“Well, the timeline takes us years back,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com to explain how and when he made the decision to stop.
“So it’s not a decision I made overnight. Obviously the final decision was made yesterday, telling the team I’m going to stop and not continue. But there was a lot of thinking that led to this.
“So, yeah, I think it’s a good time for me to do other things. I obviously know how much dedication I’ve got into this. And if you do, I’m convinced you should do it the right way. I don’t get much pleasure and motivation from being here. And to be a part of it.”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
Photo: Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images
Vettel stressed that while Aston Martin does not have a competitive car at the moment, it values the team itself highly, and believes it can make progress.
“The goal was always to win and to compete ahead,” he said. “I think I’ve been so fortunate to have had so many great cars and teams in the past that I’ve been able to achieve so many things.
“I think in terms of greatness, this team is not lacking in any of them, compared to any of the previous team, but obviously, our group hasn’t been as strong as we’d like it to be.
“So we didn’t race on the front posts. But in terms of effort, team spirit and quality, I think there are all the right ingredients. And I see the team going to make progress next year, and the years after that.
“But as I said, a lot of devotion also means spending a lot of time in your head, in your thoughts, but also away from home, about children, and family, and I have grown up other things, other than children growing up, they are other interests and perspectives, and I cannot Ignore these sounds.
“So in the end, I think the questions got bigger and bigger and more central that I made the decision.
“It’s not a 100%-0% decision. It’s not like I hate racing from now on, I still love racing.
“But it is probably the majority that is pushing me in a different direction. I am not making a path, because it is my decision, but I am happy to go in a different direction.”
Vettel rarely talks about his family or private life, but he stressed that his wife Hanna is ready to support whatever choice he makes.
He said, “Of course, I spent a lot of time talking to my wife. She was probably the first supportive in terms of continuing, and I said that at the end, it’s my decision.”
“I think I am incredibly fortunate to have found something in my life that means so much to me, that has given me so much joy, and a platform to make friends and meet all kinds of people, travel the world, see things, and open my horizons.
And yes, I think she was very supportive, saying it had to be my decision. Of course she has an opinion. But she is very supportive. And in the end, [it was] You decide, I can’t decide for you.”
Vettel admitted that his growing interest in environmental issues had an impact on his thinking.
“Yeah, it’s one of the factors that definitely played a role. I don’t know, I can’t give you a number in percentage terms, I think that would be ridiculous.
“But for sure, seeing the world change and seeing the future, in a very threatening situation for all of us, and especially for future generations — I understand that part of my passion, my job comes with things I’m not really fond of traveling the world, racing cars, burning resources, literally.
“I think once you see these things, once you realize, I don’t really think you can ignore it. It’s not the main factor. Like I said, it’s a combination of many things, but it’s also part of the driver behind the decision.”