Lewis Duncan

Hamilton pays tribute to ‘one of F1’s greatest’ Vettel

On Thursday before the Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel announced via his new Instagram account that he would be retiring from F1 at the end of the 2022 season.

Hamilton and Vettel raced in F1 at almost exactly the same time, with the latter making his debut midway through the 2007 campaign which also marked Hamilton’s first.

Former title rivals in the late 2010s during Vettel’s spell at Ferrari, the two drivers have in recent years become F1’s moral leaders in their calls for social change and action against the global climate crisis.

When asked how he would remember Vettel as a driver, Hamilton said he was “one of the few people who didn’t feel alone” in F1.

“I kind of knew it was going to happen, because there had been hints, but realizing it is another thing,” Hamilton said of the Vettel news.

“And I would just say naturally, my first feeling is it’s sad to see him end. And then I haven’t had a lot of time to think about how far we’ve come together.

“But when I talk about the journey that I felt like I had in the sport, and that I often feel like it was relatively lonely, I would say he’s one of the few people not to feel alone.

“He supported me through a lot of things. I still remember 2007, the press conference at Magny-Cours, and his outspokenness during the drivers’ briefing.

“And I knew then that he was going to be a powerful figure in the sport. But then seeing his success and then seeing that he puts others before himself and was so brave to speak up and stand up for what he believes in.

“We talk about legends in our sport. I don’t really like that name, or that title, to be honest.

“I think he’s one of the greatest people we’ve seen in sport. And we need more like him. I’m sad because I will have lost an ally inside real sport on Grid.

“But I know that outside he will do great things. And I hope we will always remain friends. I hope there are other things that we can do together outside.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Photo by: FIA Pool

Former Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc – who revealed Vettel sent him a consolation text after his crash at the French GP – said he was “sad” to see Vettel retire, adding: ” At least it’s sad for me.

“Maybe for him he’s a lot happier where he’s going now. Apparently odd it’s going to be not seeing Seb inside the paddock.

“I learned so much to ride with him, and he was always super nice to me.

“I will definitely miss having Seb in the paddock, but I wish him the best and I’m sure he will find other things that will make him happy in other ways.”

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was replaced by Vettel at Aston Martin for the 2021 season, expressed his “pride” in the German’s achievements and sympathized with his reasoning for retiring.

“I’m very proud of Seb, of what he has achieved,” Perez said. “He’s a great sports legend, he’s a great guy. He’s always been very fair, very vocal, he’s been very successful, he has a beautiful family.

“He has everything you would hope a colleague achieves, so I’m very proud of him and wish him and his family all the best.

“I think it’s a very personal decision. I think it’s extremely personal, it’s how you feel and what you want to do and how your family is.

“When you get older you definitely put other priorities in place, and then you’re not willing to pay the price of being an F1 driver because it comes at a price.

“Sometimes you are and sometimes you aren’t.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Perez’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen says Vettel is “a great ambassador” for F1 but feels it is “important” that he can now “enjoy his life”.

“I mean, at the end of the day, he’s accomplished so much in this sport that it’s completely understandable that he’s retiring,” the reigning world champion said.

“I mean, I think he’s had an amazing career. He’s won a lot of races, he’s won a lot of championships as well.

“And I of course think he’s a great ambassador for the sport. So, you know, seeing him go is…it’s something you can see coming, everyone gets old, at some point. , everyone is retiring.

“And of course it’s never nice when that moment comes around, especially, of course, for the Seb fans. But those things happen.

“And I think it’s important now that he enjoys his life with his family, because F1 is such a short time in your life that you work so hard to achieve all these things that he has achieved and now he it’s time to enjoy it.” .”

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium

Photo by: Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso, who battled with Vettel for the world title in 2010 and 2012 – losing to the German twice – has called him one of his biggest rivals in F1 alongside Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

“Lewis and Sebastian, both of them probably share most of my time here,” Alonso said.

“Obviously Michael may always be my first choice, because, you know, I was fighting for the championship with him and I grew up watching him in Formula 1, dominating the sport.

“So I learned so much from Michael. And then with Lewis and Seb, yeah, the three of us, we shared a lot.

“We will miss him after so many years, you know, sharing the track with fights, obviously.

“His championships, I was kind of in there too. So yeah, [he’s a] great champion.

“Also a great man, with very strong values ​​and a beautiful family and probably that decision too, as I heard the family, wish him the best, and hope he’s in the paddock.”

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper, Jonathan Noble and Luke Smith

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