Sebastian Vettel has admitted retiring from Formula 1 could leave him in a deep hole that would be difficult to escape from.
For the first time in his adult life, Vettel is set to enter 2023 with uncertainty about what lies ahead – unless he has sorted out a new role for himself in the meantime.
The 35-year-old has announced he is to retire from F1 racing at the end of this season, having made his debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix just a few weeks before his 20th birthday.
After eight races for Sauber in that first season, the following year Vettel joined Toro Rosso and in only the 22nd F1 race of his career he captured his first victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
The German went on to join Red Bull in 2009, and from 2010-13 won the World Championship four consecutive times, eventually taking his number of race wins to 53 when joining Ferrari.
But when he completes his second and final year with Aston Martin, Vettel will step into the unknown one way or another – even if he does land himself another job in the remaining months of this year.
It is feasible that Vettel may leave Formula 1 behind and, besides spending more time with his young family, instead focus on the environmental and social issues about which he frequently speaks out.
“The best race is still to come, which obviously you could say is bullsh*t if you are not racing anymore, but I think I’m referring to it in a better picture, as in life,” said Vettel, quoted by Motorsport Week.
“I think for every sportsman and woman, actually, probably the biggest challenge is probably waiting for us while we decide to do other things.
“That’s what I’m facing and in all honesty, I’m also scared of what’s coming. It might be a hole and I don’t know how deep it is and whether I’ll get out of it.
“But I have lots of support and people who have supported me along the way and will continue to help me and give me direction and guidance.
“Hopefully I’ll make the right decisions in the future to progress and become a better version of myself in 10 years’ time.”
Vettel also addressed the question of his best memory in Formula 1, considering there had been so many high points – especially during his time within the Red Bull organisation.
“I don’t know how others answer this kind of question,” he said. “I don’t work like that. Maybe it’s a sort of way to protect myself. I can agree on Monza [in 2008], it was an incredible race, incredible emotions.
“Winning the title…I could name you now a few highlights, but the way I’m working I’m always looking forward to what’s next.”
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