Sebastian Vettel’s dad says driving at the back ‘accelerated’ F1 retirement thoughts

Jamie Woodhouse
Sebastian Vettel in the garage with his helmet on looking at the camera. Miami May 2022

Sebastian Vettel in the garage with his helmet and hans on looking at the camera. Miami May 2022

Sebastian Vettel’s father, Norbert Vettel, says being stuck towards the back of the grid played a role in his son’s retirement call.

On the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Vettel announced he will retire at the end of the 2022 season, calling time on a Formula 1 career that started in 2007.

Vettel has been away from the leading pace in Formula 1 for some time, having not battled at the front with any consistency since 2019.

Instead, since joining Aston Martin from 2021, Vettel has rarely enjoyed the luxury of even driving a car at the head of the midfield, Aston Martin currently in front of only Williams in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship.

And according to Vettel’s dad, the lack of opportunities to compete higher up the grid played a role in reaching his decision to retire.

“It’s a shame, but I understand him,” Norbert Vettel told RTL. “It was an incredible career for my son, but the low point was Austria [this year].

“It hurt him so much to drive around at the end of the field and that accelerated those thoughts for him.”

Sebastian Vettel driving at Monza. Monza, September 2021.
Sebastian Vettel moves his Aston Martin car round a bend at Monza. Monza, September 2021.

Before Vettel walks away from Formula 1, his father is determined to watch his son compete live from the circuit one more time.

And the venue he wants to visit holds great significance in Vettel’s career.

“I definitely want to go to another race and I’ll probably choose Monza because that’s where he took his first Formula 1 win with Toro Rosso,” said Norbert.

“That’s where his great career as a four-time World Champion started with his first win.”

Competing in the lower midfield does little for Vettel, and it can be seen in his performances

In the latter years of Vettel’s Formula 1 career, it has been apparent a level of motivation is needed for him to hit top gear, which simply is not provided by scrapping to make the top 10.

As a 53-time race winner and four-time World Champion, all of those titles coming in successive seasons with Red Bull, Vettel proved just how high a level he can reach in a competitive car, but without that in recent years his peak performance has only been seen in flashes.

On the more common race weekend when Aston Martin are somewhere in the mid-to-lower reaches of the midfield, or even in 2020 during his dismal final season with Ferrari, Vettel rarely pumped in the performances a four-time World Champion could be expected to deliver in a car off the pace.

But as soon as there was some performance in the car, it was almost like the flick of a switch and Vettel suddenly looked like his old self again – Monaco, Azerbaijan and Hungary in 2021 all serving as strong examples in Aston Martin colours.

However, with such opportunities seemingly drying up, it is understandable Vettel may have lost the motivation to carry on.


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