Aston Martin F1 driver Sebastian Vettel has revealed that the thought of retiring from Formula 1 has “crossed my mind”, but the German is eager to continue racing for now.
The four-time world champion won his last title in 2013, and has since endured title heartbreak with Ferrari before leaving the Scuderia at the end of the 2020 season.
Vettel won 14 races with Ferrari and fought Sir Lewis Hamilton for title glory in 2017 and 2018, but his dream title in red never materialised.
Speaking after the end of the 2021 season, which was his maiden campaign with Aston Martin, Vettel confirmed that leaving the sport was an option.
“Of course, sometimes you ask yourself the question of meaning. I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet,” Vettel replied when asked if he had considered retiring from Formula 1.
The 34-year-old has been spreading messages of environmental awareness and equality this year, and while he is proud to be an ambassador for change, he insists that remaining in the sport solely for that purpose would take opportunities away from young drivers.
“But I don’t go on just to convey messages. Then I wouldn’t be true to myself and I wouldn’t be as good. If I no longer feel the inner drive and ambition and only stick to it to convey messages or increase the bank balance, that would be a betrayal of the generation that is yet to come and live the dream.”
Aston Martin finished seventh in the Constructors’ Championship this year, and Vettel admitted that this is a source of frustration, but he is still keen to continue racing.
“After all, I can still take care of certain issues when I’m no longer driving. But the fire is still burning. As a sportsman, I get annoyed and do everything I can to make it faster. But it’s not life-threatening, that’s true. In that sense, it’s a luxury problem.”
He also maintains that winning is still very much in his sights, and he wants to return to the front of the F1 grid.
“That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t want to do everything in my own little sporting microcosm to win. Otherwise it would no longer make sense. The motivation is there, we are trying to improve together and the team is trying to turn everything around that is possible.”
The 34-year-old believes that the new regulations for 2022 could well help Aston Martin, but was quick to extinguish any over-excitement.
“The new rules offer a great opportunity in 2022. But we also have to remain realistic and not talk about being favourites, but look at how good our car is.”
Before the new season begins, Vettel will compete in the Race of Champions with Haas driver and compatriot Mick Schumacher as his team-mate.