Despite being a four-time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel believes he will be “forgotten very quickly” when he leaves F1 – and is “fine” with that.
Only three drivers – Sir Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio – have won more drivers’ world titles than Vettel, who is joint fourth on the all-time list with Alain Prost.
In terms of race wins, with 53, Vettel finds himself behind only Hamilton and Schumacher.
But regarding his legacy when retirement comes, Vettel is unconcerned about his achievements being consigned to the history books because he feels the most important thing is for F1 to move on into its future.
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“I don’t care what people think,” Vettel told Motorsport.com. “Our world always looks ahead, which is positive. You can’t stand still in the past, otherwise we would still be here talking about Juan Manuel Fangio as the God of all drivers.
“I think he was a great, a very special driver. But if we ask a 15-year-old today who Juan Manuel Fangio was, I don’t think they could give an answer.
“In the end this isn’t wrong, in the sense that time passes and will pass again.
“I’m sure that when I say goodbye to Formula 1, I will be forgotten very quickly and that’s fine with me, I think that’s right.
“This is also the reason why I’m not too worried about having to prove something to people and I concentrate only on who I have in front of me and on myself.
“I don’t want to sound selfish or arrogant, but in the end it’s me and the team. There are the people who support me and who have given me a lot in the last 10 years, standing by me regardless of the last result.”
Vettel added that Formula 1 observers – a bit like those of other sports such as football, some would say – now judge competitors with shorter-term memories than used to be the case.
“I think F1 is moving very fast, not only in terms of speed on the track but also with assessments that are now based on the last two results,” he said.
“You can come out of nowhere and be judged a hero after a couple of good races or, as in my case, have more than 50 wins and be judged average. That’s how it goes today.”