Sebastian Vettel is counting down his races in Formula 1, with the four-time World Champion set to retire at the end of the season.
The German has enjoyed a highly successful F1 career, during which he’s claimed four titles and 53 victories, with the first of those having come in 2008.
The 35-year-old famously won the 2008 Italian GP whilst driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, in what was the team’s home race.
It was a sign of what was to come from the highly successful German, who moved to Red Bull in 2009 where he won all four of his titles, from 2010-2013.
In 2015 he moved to Ferrari, whom he failed to win the title with but did come close on a couple of occasions.
The German driver spent six seasons at the Scuderia, before joining Aston Martin, whom he is ending his F1 career with.
Vettel’s time with the British side has been very underwhelming, with the German having only claimed a single podium, which came at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
In all fairness, the team hasn’t given Vettel a car capable of consistent points finishes, let alone victories.
Over the last few years, Vettel has somewhat turned his attention to being an activist, where he has supported various campaigns and global matters such as climate change.
Vettel has been called a ‘hypocrite’ several times, with the German supporting the likes of environmental and climate change yet continuing to compete in one of the world’s leading causes of the problem.
The German is regularly seen wearing a t-shirt in support of a campaign or community, something which some believe got the driver into a lot of trouble.
Vettel was a supporter of the ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters who stormed onto the circuit at the British Grand Prix, something which could’ve had devastating consequences.
There are reports that this was Aston Martin F1 owner Lawrence Stroll’s final straw, with some under the impression that Vettel was forced to retire after being sacked.
Whilst speaking ahead of the Italian GP, Vettel firmly denied these reports, insisting that retirement was his choice.
“No, I wasn’t sacked,” said Vettel
“A lot of things led me to my decision. The environmental concerns are only one reason. Seeing my kids grow up is another.”
The German went on to discuss the ongoing climate issues, with the activist explaining how he tries his best to travel to races in an electric car rather than a plane.
“People say I am greenwashing,” he said.
“I am and we are, but I try to do what I can. I am fortunate enough to have money to implement solar panels on my roof. I can afford an electric car. I choose to drive to every race in Europe rather than fly, apart from Silverstone and Hungary.
“Coming to my views on the environment wasn’t a trauma, a sudden thing. It’s just that I have visited so many places around the world and seen changes.
“Now we don’t have any snow. Forest fires are in Germany, France, London. There’s drought in the summer.
“Having my own children is a factor in seeing things in the way I now do. Life isn’t only yours.”
Whilst racing for Aston Martin, Vettel has been receiving his paychecks from a team whose title partner is Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil company.
This has played a part also in the ‘hypocrite’ calls, with the German fighting environmental change, yet then being paid by one of the largest polluters in the world.
So, would the German consider racing for free?
“Um,” he said.
“We drivers are not running the sport.
“To give you the truth, if they paid us 10 per cent of what we are getting we’d all still be here because we love driving. Yes, we are burning fuel to race, otherwise we wouldn’t go anywhere. But it is not our job to sign up various sponsors along the way.
“I have lots of ideas and when I step away from the sport we will see what I can do with my money, though it is a very private question. I’d like to implement change and help kids, perhaps set something up — I could put money into that.”
What Vettel has done and is continuing to do is actually incredibly admirable, with the hope that his influence will see the next generation of drivers take on the fight of climate and environmental change.
There is no doubt that the issues are affecting us all, with the likes of London having seen heat-related fires never seen before in the country.
Pakistan is also currently experiencing one of the worst bouts of flooding in its history, with an area the size of the United Kingdom currently under water.
There have been calls for Vettel to become a politician once he leaves F1; however, he has firmly ruled this possibility out.
“No, it’s a very difficult job,” said the Aston Martin driver.
Incredibly, Vettel is being replaced at Aston Martin by the driver he replaced at Ferrari in 2015, veteran Fernando Alonso.
Vettel has some amazing memories from his time at the Scuderia, with the Italian GP being the highlight of any Ferrari driver’s time with the Prancing Horse’s.
The former Ferrari driver never won the Italian GP with Ferrari but did win at the ‘Temple of Speed’ once with Toro Rosso and three times with Red Bull.
“I had a brilliant time,” he said of his time with Ferrari.
“I got to know Italy from a different point of view.
“But my big target was to win the championship and we failed. I scored too few points. I crashed when I shouldn’t have. We weren’t quick enough when we needed to be.
“But I have no major regrets. The smash at Hockenheim is a small one. If I could go back, I’d have braked even earlier!
“But that doesn’t matter so much as that I tried most of the time to treat people the way I wanted to be treated.”