Sebastian Vettel opens up on what he misses about Formula 1

Thomas Maher
Sebastian Vettel in conversation at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Goodwood, July 2023.

Sebastian Vettel in conversation at the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel is settling back into life as a ‘civilian’ and has revealed what he misses about the sport.

Following on from a two-year stint with Aston Martin after being ousted from Ferrari, Vettel called time on his F1 career at the conclusion of 2022 – drawing to a close an astonishing legacy that included four consecutive world championship wins between 2010 and ’13.

The German driver walked away from the sport as one of F1’s most popular figures thanks to his friendly and respectful nature, humility, and passion for the sport – a passion that hasn’t dimmed, despite his decision to leave.

What does Sebastian Vettel miss about Formula 1?

Aside from appearances in January’s Race of Champions, and a demo run at last month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Vettel has had a quiet 2023.

Speaking to Red Bull publication The Red Bulletin, Vettel opened up on retired life.

“The first few months passed quickly and it was nice to be able to enjoy the freedom to organise my time,” he said.

Many factors went into my decision to resign. I didn’t stop because I didn’t like the sport anymore, was too slow, or really wanted to do something else. Resignations are very individual. 

“For me, time was one of the determining factors: the many races; knowing how much effort it takes to do the job properly, in my opinion. 

“At the same time, I have small children at home. That time will not come again.”

But what about F1 does Vettel actually miss?

“I enjoyed the driving, the competition, right up to the end,” he said.

“When you only have one shot left in qualifying and it has to hit the mark. racing duels. These are the moments I miss the most.”

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Sebastian Vettel reveals how he’s moved on from F1 adrenaline

Now happily at home looking after his young family, Vettel admitted he felt he had outgrown the sport.

“I no longer wanted to make certain compromises,” he said.

“Plus: My children have a right to me being there for them more. I must have outgrown a bit of a world that I used to think was great. Things that I once saw as pure white had been given a certain tint.”

The German driver is well-known for his interest in the environment, sustainability, and protecting nature for the next generation – a change in ethos he said was somewhat at odds with his position in the sport.

“Anyone who does not close their eyes perceives social developments,” he said.

Although F1 has taken up a large part of my life, it is not central to the people of the world. If you think outside the box, you can see the signs.”

But, with all the free time in the world and not much to do to fill it, just what is Vettel up to this year – how is he filling the void of not being a professional racing driver?

“This question has occupied me for a long time,” he explained.

“I was very well prepared when I made this decision. But one unpredictable factor remains. I like doing sports outside. As of today, there is nothing that pushes me to the limit like F1. That’s what I miss the most. 

“I have to put the brakes on myself here, because that’s exactly what I wanted to get to know about myself: What happens when I’m not in competition mode? At some point, this adrenaline rush of a career at the top of the world will come to an end, whether freely chosen or forced – for example due to injuries. 

“Then it’s about moving on, taking the thrill and the tension with you to the next section. I’m not saying it’s easy or saying I’ve done it. I’m searching, and this process itself is exciting.”

Is Sebastian Vettel cheering on Aston Martin this year?

Having left the Aston Martin team behind just as the British outfit took a significant step forward in competitiveness, Vettel said he doesn’t feel any jealousy of seeing Fernando Alonso reap the reward of that.

“The first reaction of many people was: The fact that the Aston Martin is so fast this season must frustrate you?” he said.

“OK, maybe it would be easier if the car was total garbage, in the sense of: I’m not missing anything anyway. No, I’m primarily happy for the team. 

“I’m happy for Fernando Alonso. For many years he had no car in which he could show his driving skills. Now he can and is up there. Red Bull Racing dominates, and I still have a lot of friends and acquaintances there. I’m really happy when they win.

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