Sebastian Vettel’s announcement regarding his retirement shocked the entire paddock, with the German having been expected to sign a one-year contract extension with the Aston Martin F1 Team.
One person who wasn’t shocked was Vettel’s father Norbert, who told RTL exactly when the four-time World Champion decided that his time was up in F1.
“It was an incredible career for my son, but the low point was Austria [this year],” he told RTL.
“It hurt him so much to drive around at the end of the field and that accelerated those thoughts for him.”
Vettel finished P17 at the Red Bull Ring and a lap down, after being spun late on by Pierre Gasly at Turn Four.
It’s been a highly disappointing 18 months for the German since joining Aston Martin, with his podium at last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix being the only real highlight.
The British team hasn’t delivered a car capable of consistent points finishes, let alone podiums, something Vettel is known to be missing.
Red Bull Racing chief advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes Vettel has decided the time is right to leave the pinnacle of motorsport, with no top seats available and with Aston Martin currently being one of the slowest cars on the grid.
“It’s becoming apparent,” he told motorsport-total.com.
“He’s not in a competitive car and I don’t think he saw the prospect of the car being able to make a regular podium finish next year. And there’s no space in the top teams.
“He wants to see his children grow up. I think his speech that he posted on Instagram is very good. He has different priorities and a different world view. Then you can’t drive for a brand that is sponsored by an Arab mineral oil company.
“Aston Martin is a luxury brand with eight and twelve cylinders. That’s not credible, and then that’s the logical consequence.”
It was put to Marko whether Vettel might make a heroic comeback in a few years like Michael Schumacher did in 2010, when the seven-time World Champion returned to the sport with the Mercedes F1 Team after three years out.
“No,” he replied.
“I think this is final.”
Vettel has turned a lot of his attention to activism over recent years, something which has seen him show support for various campaigns.
His retirement means he will have more time available to put into fighting global issues, something Marko is expecting his former driver to do once the season is over.
“I’m sure more attention will now be paid to the issue of environmental protection.”