Four-Time F1 Champ Sebastian Vettel Will Retire at the End of 2022

Making the announcement via Instagram, Vettel said that he wants to focus on his family and the environment.
Sebastian Vettel during the pre-race press conference at Paul Ricard
Aston Martin F1

Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel has just announced his retirement from the sport after the end of the 2022 season.

For an F1 driver, Vettel, 35, has always been intensely private. He keeps himself—and particularly his family—away from the cameras and has always been a bit attention-averse, even when he was busy winning back-to-back championships while impossibly young. So it was a surprise when, in the last couple of years, he started using his position in F1 as a platform to talk about climate change and even more when, yesterday, he joined Instagram. Today, he used the platform to announce he’s leaving F1 to focus on family and environmentalism.

“I hereby announce my retirement from Formula 1 by the end of the 2022 season,” he said. “Probably I should start with a long list of people to thank now but I feel it is more important to explain the reasons behind my decision. I love this sport. It has been central to my life since I can remember. But as much as there’s life on track, there’s my life off-track, too.”

He went on, “Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity. I very much believe in identity by who we are and how we treat others, rather than what we do … I am tolerant and feel we all have the same rights to live, no matter what we look like, where we come from and who we love. I love being outside and love nature and its wonders … Next to racing, I have grown a family and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside Formula 1.”

Then he got to the other aspect of his retirement: the urgent threat of climate change.

“Speaking of the future, I feel we live in very decisive times and how we all shape these next years will determine our lives,” Vettel said. “My passion comes with certain aspects that I have learned to dislike. They might be solved in the future but the will to apply that change has to grow much, much stronger and has to be leading to action today. Talk is not enough and we cannot afford to wait. There is no alternative. The race is underway.”

Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari era, alongside Lewis Hamilton

Vettel has called himself a hypocrite for protesting against Canadian oil sand mining while wearing an Aramco logo just a few races ago. He’s always acknowledged that there is an incompatibility between being an F1 driver and an environmentalist.

Vettel has been racing in F1 since 2007. He will nearly reach 300 grand prix by the time he retires after Abu Dhabi, and he’s had a long and extraordinarily successful career in the sport. He won four back-to-back world championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013. He is F1’s youngest-ever world champion and one of a very small number of drivers to have challenged for a title in the turbo-hybrid era. He’s one of two drivers to ever win a race for AlphaTauri (then Toro Rosso) and the only driver to have told then-race director Charlie Whiting to, “Fuck off” on the radio.

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