He announced his decision on Thursday
The news of his decision to retire from Formula 1 came as a surprise to those who gave Sebastian Vettel credit a week earlier in the French Grand Prix. And the four-time champion clarified on Thursday that he made the decision just one day before announcing it.
His attitude over the last year, where he almost never talks about Formula 1, focusing on environmental issues instead, foreshadowed his potential retirement.
“The timeline [of the decision] takes us back years,” Vettel said.
“It’s not a decision I made overnight. The final decision was taken yesterday by telling the team I am going to stop and not going to continue, but there was a lot of thought leading into this.”
In Montreal, Alberta minister for energy Sonya Savage had already criticised Vettel‘s remarks about the mining operations in the area.
“I have seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this one takes the cake,” she wrote on Twitter back in June.
“A race car driver sponsored by Aston Martin, with financing from Saudi Aramco, complaining about the oil-sands.
“Saudi Aramco has the largest daily oil production of all companies in the world. It is reputed to be the single largest contributor to global carbon emissions, of any company, since 1965.
“Rather than demonising the oil-sands, which is on a path to net-zero, people could look to lowering their own personal carbon footprint. Perhaps a pedal-car for Formula 1?”
Earlier this year Vettel had revealed a deep internal struggle while talking to the BBC debate programme Question Time.
“There are certain things that are in my control, and certain things are not,” Vettel said in May. “It’s my passion to drive a car, and I love it. And every time I step in the car, I love it.
“When I get out of the car, of course I’m thinking as well, is this something we should do? Travel the world, wasting resources?”
In the talks to extend his contract, such questions must have been on the table.
Lawrence Stroll, the former fashion tycoon turned Aston Martin Racing owner, must have warned Vettel that they would continue to be sponsored by an Arab oil company, the most active on the planet, and that the company sells luxury cars, most of them with combustion engines.
On his Instagram account, one which was created to announce his departure at the end of 2022, Vettel stressed that he is retiring for family reasons.
“My goals have shifted from winning races and fighting for championships to seeing my children grow, passing on my values, helping them up when they fall, listening to them when they need me, not having to say goodbye and, most importantly, being able to learn from them and let them inspire me,” the F1 driver said.