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Sebastian Vettel: World Champion With Attitude

He can no longer win and Formula 1 can hardly be reconciled with his conscience. Now Sebastian Vettel is announcing the end of his career.

Maybe you could have pricked your ears when the social media muffle Sebastian Vettel suddenly set up an Instagram channel. And his brother Fabian pointed out this and the time 12 o'clock via his channels. The four-time world champion then promptly declared his resignation at the end of the 2022 season via video message. The main reason was that he wanted to devote more time to his family and his children in the future:

"My goals have shifted from winning races and world championships to seeing my kids grow up teaching them my values. To help them when they stumble, to listen to them when they need me, not constantly 'See you soon! ' to say and, most importantly, to learn from and be inspired by them." But that's only part of the story. There are other reasons for the resignation that Vettel has been thinking about for months. There is his constantly growing commitment to environmental and climate protection and human rights, his dissatisfaction with developments in Formula 1, which he thinks are progressing far too slowly in this direction - which is why he offended top managers and encountered resistance when he made his opinion clear.

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Of course, he was always aware of certain contradictions between his emphasis on climate protection and his job as a Formula 1 driver, even if he has long been doing something to at least personally reduce his CO₂ footprint or to have an educational effect. It is well known that he always lend a hand to collect carelessly discarded plastic bottles in the paddock and put them in the recycling bins, even after the race in the deserted grandstands to "clean up" there. He organizes his trips in a climate-friendly manner as much as possible: no flights in Europe, instead more often electric cars or, if possible, by train.

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"The accusation is absolutely justified," he said in the BBC talk show Question Time in early summer, criticizing Formula 1. "There are questions I ask myself every day. I'm not a saint. Driving is my passion. But when I get out, I sometimes think if that's necessary, if that's something we should do - um travel the world and waste resources?"

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What set Vettel apart from many of his fellow drivers was his view over the horizon, his attitude. Early on, he also used his travels for other things than the journey between the airport, hotel and racetrack. He was open to new impressions and valued getting to know other cultures and drawing conclusions from them.

The approach of being more than just a Formula 1 world champion was always there. Whether in 2011 at the first Indian GP, ​​when he was very touched and concerned with the impressions of the country and people he gained on a trip to the Taj Mahal, whether in 2012 at the Bahrain GP, ​​when he had a clear opinion about this race At the time, however, I did not yet dare to say it openly.

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And then, of course, there is the sporting side: in reality, the prospects at Aston Martin had nothing to do with what he had hoped for when he moved there. Despite many promises, an upward trend was not in sight. If anything, the 2022 car is even worse than the 2021 car, and even the major updates didn't bring the hoped-for improvements. Relying on things being better in 2023 was not enough to drown out the other concerns. A driver who has collected 4 world championship titles, 53 victories, 122 podiums, 57 poles, 38 fastest race laps and 3,076 points in his career so far does not want to languish hopelessly in the midfield.

The numbers show one thing: Formula 1 not only loses a very big personality, but also a very big one in sport. Only Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Juan-Manuel Fangio have more world titles than Vettel, the era at Red Bull was a very impressive one - even if it has almost been forgotten. The unfortunate Ferrari era and now the hopeless Aston Martin have somewhat faded the Heppenheimer's brilliant achievements.

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Internally, Vettel's work was still extremely appreciated. Aston Martin was keen to continue with him and team boss Mike Krack emphasized his extreme commitment, experience and ability to motivate and develop a team. And once the car was running reasonably well, the 35-year-old delivered the best performances, like in Baku or Canada - which, however, were not as noticeable in midfield as they used to be at the front.

He is not allowed to join the 300 club

But just setting a small highlight every now and then is not enough in the long run. To wait and hope that the Porsche and Audi entry into Formula 1 in 2026 could give him another chance of a winning car – a perspective that is far too vague, far too far away.

So that's the end of the 2022 season. That will just not be enough for admission to the 300 club, which Lewis Hamilton recently joined in France. After the final in Abu Dhabi he will have a maximum of 299 Grands Prix under his belt. But that will not matter much to Sebastian Vettel, who has never cared about numbers and records.

And the new Instagram channel can be used in the future to send messages out into the world. Messages that really matter to Sebastian Vettel.

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