Sebastian Vettel makes major retirement admission as final team Aston Martin thrive

Oliver Harden
Moody picture of Sebastian Vettel.

Moody picture of Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel has insisted he is not jealous of the success of Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin in 2023 – but admits it would have been “easier” for him if the car was “total rubbish.” 

The four-time World Champion brought the curtain down on his glittering career at the end of last season with Aston Martin a lowly seventh in the Constructors’ standings.

At the halfway point of 2023, however, the Silverstone team sit third after Vettel’s replacement Alonso started the season with six podium finishes in the first eight races, with Aston Martin regularly competing with Mercedes and Ferrari to emerge as the best of the rest behind the dominant Red Bull team.

Sebastian Vettel pleased for Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso

The rapid rise of Aston Martin has led to suggestions that Vettel walked away at the wrong time and just as the team’s fortunes were about to turn.

Vettel appeared to have an awkward relationship with Alonso as competitors, particularly when they duelled for the World Championship in 2010 and 2012, yet their stance softened in the aftermath of Vettel’s retirement announcement last summer with Alonso running a helmet design paying tribute to the German at Vettel’s final grand prix appearance in Abu Dhabi 2022.

Speaking to the German edition of the Red Bulletin, Vettel has insisted he is happy for both Aston Martin and Alonso in 2023 – but says his retirement would be easier to take if the team hadn’t made such major progress.

He said: “The first reaction of many people was: ‘The fact that the Aston Martin is so fast this season must be getting on your nerves by now?’

“Okay, maybe it would be easier if the car was total rubbish in the sense of: ‘I’m not missing anything anyway.’

“No, I’m primarily happy for the team. And I’m happy for Fernando Alonso. For many years he didn’t have a car in which he could show his driving class. Now he can and he’s at the front.”

Red Bull have won all 13 races since Abu Dhabi 2022, with Vettel’s former team setting a new record for the longest winning run by a single team in F1.

While others have found the dominance of Red Bull and Max Verstappen testing, Vettel is delighted that his former colleagues are enjoying such success, adding: “Red Bull Racing is dominating, and I still have many friends and acquaintances there. I am very happy when they win.”

Vettel’s praise of Alonso comes after the latter openly doubted earlier this season whether the German would have enjoyed a similar level of success in 2023.

When asked after qualifying at April’s Australian Grand Prix if Vettel had retired too soon, Alonso replied: “I don’t know if he could have made the Aston Martin that fast, so you never know.”

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Despite attending the Monaco GP at the end of May Vettel has remained relatively detached from F1 in the months since his retirement, choosing to invest in an all-German team in the SailGP boating competition.

A passionate climate campaigner, Vettel appeared at last month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed event driving historic F1 cars – including Nigel Mansell’s title-winning 1992 Williams FW14B and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren MP4/8 – on sustainable fuels as part of his Race Without Trace initiative.

Vettel went on to tell media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper at Goodwood that F1’s future will be at risk if governments around the world begin to impose bans on motorsport to combat climate change.

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