What next for Sebastian Vettel? | Hamilton: He’ll be back


Sebastian Vettel will retire after this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton believes his rival and friend will return; watch the Abu Dhabi GP all weekend live on Sky Sports F1 – with the race at 1pm on Sunday

By Adam Williams

Last Updated: 17/11/22 6:24pm

In a humorous exchange Lewis Hamilton thinks Sebastian Vettel will return to F1 despite the German retiring after the Abu Dhabi GP

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In a humorous exchange Lewis Hamilton thinks Sebastian Vettel will return to F1 despite the German retiring after the Abu Dhabi GP

In a humorous exchange Lewis Hamilton thinks Sebastian Vettel will return to F1 despite the German retiring after the Abu Dhabi GP

Sebastian Vettel admits he will likely consider a return to competitive motorsport following his impending retirement from Formula 1, while Lewis Hamilton expects to see his long-time rival back on the grid. 

Four-time world champion Vettel is set to compete in his final grand prix in Abu Dhabi this weekend, after a hugely-decorated, 16-year F1 career which has featured 53 race victories.

Vettel, 35, has in recent years developed a reputation for holding interests outside of F1, and pursuing those – along with spending time with his family – was perceived to be a significant factor in his decision to retire after two seasons with Aston Martin.

Asked on Thursday if he would consider competing in other motorsport disciplines, Vettel replied: “I think naturally you do look at other stuff. I don’t know yet is the answer.

“I think I quite look forward to the idea of nothing at first, and then see what it does to me. There’s a lot of other things in my head as well, other interests and ideas outside racing.

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz takes a look back at the incredible career of Vettel

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz takes a look back at the incredible career of Vettel

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz takes a look back at the incredible career of Vettel

“Obviously, I’ve done this for so long and it’s central to my life, so it will be difficult to say that I’m not going to miss it, but how much and whether then I start to look at something else, we’ll see.

“I always liked for some reason rallying, but I can see it’s a major challenge because it’s so different to what we do in classic circuit racing.”

Hamilton: He’ll be back

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, like Vettel, made his F1 debut in 2007 and the pair have gone on to develop a close relationship.

Hamilton humorously reflected on the way Vettel had been a “nuisance” earlier in their careers, before revealing his expectation that the German will make a return to the sport.

“We always had such great battles,” Hamilton said. “I was just sitting here thinking most drivers are coming back. You’re probably going to come back. You’ll be back. Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in.

“I don’t think it’s ‘a goodbye show’, it’s ‘see you later’, because he’ll come back. I’m going to put my money on that he’s going to come back, just take a sabbatical, like one year, maybe two years maximum, and then come back.” Replying, Vettel joked: “Maybe we can make a deal, when you want to get away, I can come back. I don’t know. “

Hamilton passes Vettel for the lead at the United States Grand Prix

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Hamilton passes Vettel for the lead at the United States Grand Prix

Hamilton passes Vettel for the lead at the United States Grand Prix

Vettel and Hamilton competed for titles on multiple occasions during the 2010s, with the pair winning all but one championship over the decade.

The Aston Martin driver notably highlighted the Azerbaijan GP of 2017, when he and Hamilton clashed while battling under a Safety Car period, as a key moment for their relationship.

“Baku, for me, wasn’t a great moment,” Vettel said. “What I did wasn’t right but, actually, I think from that moment onwards, our friendship got better, so I don’t want that not to happen.”

Vettel: Final F1 race ‘difficult to grasp’

Vettel has made an effort in recent years to raise awareness of causes away from F1 about which he feels passionate, including human rights and climate change.

Discussing when his thoughts of retiring from F1 began, Vettel pointed to his final year with Ferrari.

“2020 really wasn’t a good year for me and the first time I was really at the point of do I have a drive? Do I want to drive? Should I stop? And I felt like I wanted to drive and was very grateful for the opportunity that was given,” Vettel said.

Sit back and enjoy the funniest moments from the career of Vettel ahead of his final race in Abu Dhabi

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Sit back and enjoy the funniest moments from the career of Vettel ahead of his final race in Abu Dhabi

Sit back and enjoy the funniest moments from the career of Vettel ahead of his final race in Abu Dhabi

“Those years have been very important for me. Not only the driving. Maybe to have the room and the possibility to grow into more off track with some of things that I’ve addressed I feel were important to all of us.

“I’m looking forward to being surprised and learning about myself, and more time with my kids and family which will be a different challenge to me.”

Vettel, who has claimed four championships to trail only Juan-Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Hamilton, admits he is still coming to terms with his career ending.

“I am aware of what’s happening but I’m happy about it.

“I enjoyed the last two years. Even if from a sporting point of view there was nothing to celebrate, I learned a lot.

“I grew and had a good time together with the team.”

‘A caring and relentless champion’

Several other drivers, a number of whom were former team-mates of Vettel’s, paid tribute to the German on Thursday.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren – team-mate of Vettel at Red Bull in 2014

“I only have good things to say. He’s a very caring individual.

“I think back to 2013 when he won every race in the second half of the season. It was a relentless approach. He just wanted to destroy the competition.

“He’s a raw competitor.”

After a challenging race, Vettel celebrates finishing eighth at the United States Grand Prix

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After a challenging race, Vettel celebrates finishing eighth at the United States Grand Prix

After a challenging race, Vettel celebrates finishing eighth at the United States Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Red Bull – first Red Bull world champion since Vettel

“He came through as a junior and basically achieved all of it in the sport. He’s had a career that a lot of people could only dream of, but, as a person, he’s always been very caring.

“One thing I will always remember from Silverstone last year. I came back from the hospital to the motor home to get all my stuff and he was there waiting for me and he was like ‘Max, are you okay? How are you doing?’.

“He is not only there for performance but also means well.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – team-mate of Vettel in 2019 and 2020

“As a person, he’s been incredible.

“In Formula 2, I remember doing the simulator work, which is not easy because it’s really tiring.

“I thought that Seb probably didn’t even know I was on the simulator, and I received a letter one day thanking me for all the hard work and it meant a lot for me at the time.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine – title rival in 2010 and 2012

“Danke Seb. One last time sharing the track with you, It will be emotional and sad at the same time, but I wish you all the best for your next chapter.

“We shared so many things over the last 15 years, sometimes we fought for championships, sometimes for seventh places.

“We still enjoy every single battle and respect each other as much as we could.”

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