Sebastian Vettel might be questioning whether he’s actually making the right decision to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season, with the four-time World Champion arguably performing the best he has done since he joined Aston Martin at the start of 2021.
Given how much of a fan-favourite Vettel has become, it doesn’t quite seem real yet that he won’t be seen on the 2023 grid, with just races at Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi remaining.
Last weekend’s United States Grand Prix marked Vettel’s final race at the Grand Prix he made his debut at, albeit at a different circuit.
Vettel’s F1 debut came at the US Grand Prix for BMW-Sauber back in 2007, after standing-in for an injured Robert Kubica.
Whilst that race was at Indianapolis and last weekends was at the Circuit of the Americas, it was nevertheless a “special place” for the 35-year-old.
He incredibly finished seventh at COTA last weekend, meaning he’s on a run of three top-eight finishes in a row.
The Japanese Grand Prix was by far the most emotional Vettel has been since announcing his retirement, with Suzuka being one of the German’s favourite venues.
His retirement is starting to feel “more real” as the season draws ever nearer to a close, with the 53-time GP winner unsure at the moment how he’ll feel at the season finale.
“It is getting a little bit more real,” Vettel said before the US Grand Prix.
“At Suzuka, I was a bit sad after qualifying and Sunday was a little bit up and down and mixed emotions because the race was so different. It’s a special place and I will miss it.
“I don’t know how Abu Dhabi will be. Obviously, from a results point of view I don’t think we expect miracles all of a sudden, but I also tend to look forward to what’s next.
“I’m excited about what’s coming, it’s not like I completely hate Formula 1 now and I’m happy to get out, but obviously I made the decision and look forward to what’s coming.”
Vettel was racing unbelievably at COTA and was unfortunate to suffer a slow pit-stop, which ended hopes of a top six finish.
COTA is nevertheless a “special place” for Vettel, with the US Grand Prix in general being one he’ll always remember.
“Yeah absolutely. I think in the end is a great place to come. Obviously, my first race was in Indy, so it has a special place,” the 35-year-old explained after the race.
“I kept the one-cent coin that I found on the Sunday morning in Indianapolis while I was running, and it’s still with me. It is a special place to me.”