This is it. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.
The German, who made his BMW Sauber debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix, revealed the news via his newly created Instagram account – his first foray into social media.
Vettel won all four of his championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, and is third on the list of all-time Grand Prix winners with 53 wins.
WATCH: 10 brilliant moments of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel
A six-year stint at Ferrari failed to deliver a coveted fifth title and he scored just one podium over a year and a half at Aston Martin, where his contract expires at the end of 2022.
Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel – who is racing alongside Lance Stroll – announced that this will be his 15th and final full season in Formula 1.
“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula 1 over the past 15 years – there are far too many to list and thank,” said Vettel. “I have been an Aston Martin driver for the past two years and although our results have not been as good as we had hoped, it is very clear to me that it has everything a team needs to race at the highest level. level for the coming years.
“I really enjoyed working with such a great group of people. Everyone – Lawrence [Stroll]Lance [Stroll]Martin [Whitmarsh]Mike [Krack]the senior managers, the engineers, the fitters and the rest of the team – is ambitious, competent, knowledgeable, committed and friendly, and I wish them all the best.
READ MORE: ‘My best race is yet to come’ – Read Vettel’s retirement statement in full as the four-time champion takes time off his F1 career
“I hope that the work I did last year and continue to do this year will be helpful in developing a team that will win in the future, and I will work as hard between now and the end of the year as I can. with that aim in mind, as always doing my best in the last 10 races.
“The decision to retire was a difficult one for me to make, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it; at the end of the year I want to take some more time to think about what I’m going to focus on in the near future; it is very clear to me that as a father i want to spend more time with my family.
“But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it’s about thanking everyone – not least the fans, without whose passionate support Formula 1 could not exist.”
This tweet has been removed from Twitter
Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll said: “I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the amazing work he has done for Aston Martin over the past year and a half. We made it clear to him that we wanted him to join us next year. but in the end he did what he thinks is right for himself and his family, and we respect that of course.
“He has driven some fantastic races for us and behind the scenes his experience and expertise with our engineers has been invaluable. He is one of the all-time greats of Formula 1 and it was a privilege to have worked with him.
“He will continue to race for us up to and including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2022, which will be his 300th Grand Prix entry. We will give him a fantastic farewell.”
Team principal Mike Krack added: “Sebastian is a great driver – fast, intelligent and strategic – and we are obviously going to miss those qualities. However, we all learned from him and the knowledge we gained from working with him will benefit our team long after his departure.
“Aston Martin is a great project, with unlimited potential, and the groundwork Sebastian did last year and continues to do this year is crucial. When we become fully competitive – and we will – Sebastian will be one of the architects of that future success, and we will always be grateful to him for that.”