Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has reminisced about Sebastian Vettel after the German’s announcement of his retirement, recalling that the four-time world champion has always had the humility he has today.
Vettel is set to bow out of Formula 1 at the end of this year after winning four world titles with Red Bull, and claiming 53 wins during a career that saw him start with Sauber in 2007.
He claimed his maiden victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso before joining Mark Webber in the main fold, and the now 35-year-old would take 14 wins with Ferrari between 2015 and 2019, leaving at the end of 2020 with no titles in red.
However, he has left a legacy at every team he has been at of a driver always willing to take the time to make people feel included and appreciated, and this is something Sainz felt during his time as a Red Bull junior.
At the height of Vettel’s success with the Milton Keynes side, Sainz was rising through the ranks in the junior formulae, and was just a few years away from his own debut with Toro Rosso in 2015.
The Spaniard recalls that Vettel always gave him advice, not only as a racing driver, but as a person too.
“For me since even before arriving to Formula One, [he was] a great role model,” Sainz said in the press conference ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I was privileged enough to be simulator driver when he was at his peak in Red Bull winning the Championships and I could see how professional he was and it gave me a very good insight into how you need to behave to be a successful Formula 1 driver like he was.
“I remember those years very well, he always had kind words for me.
“[He would] stop and have a chat with me and give me some advice, he’s a great role model, as these guys have said already.
“And he’s [an] ambassador for the sport, not only for the sport, but I think also for the younger generation that is coming through.”
While Sainz was working on the simulator helping Red Bull progress so they could continue to out-perform Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, Vettel always made sure that the now Ferrari driver felt as though he was a key part of the team’s success.
“For sure he was one of my role models, if not my [main] role model because he was there winning all the titles with Red Bull while I was doing all the simulator, listening to his debriefs,” he added.
“Especially what struck me the most was the way that in any given moment he would still have a moment to have a chat with me ask about my races, my career, about the simulator, about my feedback or whatever, and give me an importance that I don’t think I had at the time.
“It made me feel good and it made me feel proud of the job I was doing in the simulator.”
In recent years, Vettel has stood up and spoken about key world issues, perhaps when other drivers have not felt able to, so Sainz hopes the Aston Martin driver can stick around and help his colleagues make the world a better place after he retires.
“[He is the] type of career that you would look up to,” he explained.
“Always getting on well with all the teams and everyone in the paddock loves him, you will not hear someone speaking bad about Seb and I think this just speaks about his personality, his life as a human being, not only as a driver.
“I think we will miss him but I hope that we can see him back in the paddock also helping the sport to develop in certain areas that he’s [been] very vocal about recently and I hope that he can keep giving us a hand in that side.”
Vettel has received heart-warming tributes from drivers, fans and other key figures alike since his announcement of his retirement on Thursday.