Lewis Hamilton reluctant to say goodbye to Sebastian Vettel: ‘He’ll be back’

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel take a knee. Bahrain November 2020

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel take a knee. Bahrain November 2020

Lewis Hamilton has predicted this weekend will not be the end of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 career, because the sport “has a way of sucking you back in”.

Four-time World Champion Vettel is due to retire after the weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with 53 race victories to his name as one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1 ahead of the weekend, Hamilton said Vettel had been something of a “nuisance” to race against in the past, with the pair having diced at the front on a myriad of occasions since their debuts.

But the Aston Martin driver also jumped in and said their friendship blossomed after arguably their biggest moment of tension, when the then-Ferrari driver went into the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes in Azerbaijan in 2017 – having accused the Briton of ‘brake testing’ him behind the Safety Car.

The pair have both been at the forefront of activism on the Formula 1 grid together, but on track, the seven-time World Champion believes we will not yet have seen the last of Vettel in the sport.

Hamilton said: “I think we always had such great, great battles, honestly.

“And I was just sitting here thinking most drivers are coming back, like he’s come back [pointing at Fernando Alonso next to him].

“You’re probably going to come back [referring to Vettel]. We’re seeing other drivers coming back. So I’m sitting here kind of accepting, yes, it’s your last race, but he’ll be back.

“Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in and we’ve noticed that from so many other drivers.”

“We can make a deal,” Vettel quipped in immediate response. “We’ll speak outside. When you want to get away maybe then I’d want to get back…”

Hamilton himself will be making his 200th race start as a Mercedes driver this weekend, becoming the first driver in Formula 1 history to start 200 races with the same team in the process.

Reflecting on that time with the team so far, he said: “It’s been an amazing journey. One that I’m incredibly honoured to have been on with Mercedes and it’s I think it’s one of the longest standing drivers with a team, so proud of that.

“[It] shows loyalty continues to be at the core, one of the many pillars of the values that we have as a team and looking forward to extending it.”

Read more: Farewell Sebastian Vettel: From F1 villain to a much-loved inspiration