Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the year.
Vettel is out of contract with Aston Martin at the end of this season and, after weeks of speculation about his future, has now confirmed he will be stepping away from the sport at the end of 2022.
Vettel made the announcement via an Instagram account launched on Thursday. Prior to the announcement, the German driver had spent his whole F1 career without a social media presence.
He made clear that he wants to spend more time with his family as well as focusing on environmental issues, which he has dedicated an increasingly large amount of time to in recent years.
“The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it,” Vettel said in a statement.
“At the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next; it is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family.
“But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you — to everyone — not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula One could not exist.”
Vettel joined Aston Martin at the start of 2021 from Ferrari, where he had driven since 2015. Vettel spent six years at the famous Italian team hoping to emulate the records of his boyhood hero Michael Schumacher but failed to secure a title with Ferrari.
But his legacy as one of the sport’s most successful drivers was secured during his time at Red Bull, where he won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013.
Those four titles mean he is tied with Alain Prost as the fourth-most successful F1 driver, behind Juan Manuel Fangio, Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.
To date, Vettel has taken 53 career wins, 38 with Red Bull, 14 with Ferrari and his debut win with Toro Rosso at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.