The four-time world champion, who won his titles at Red Bull from 2010-2013 and is the youngest champion in Formula 1 history at 23 years of age, has been at Aston since the start of 2021 but with top results failing to materialise, the 35-year-old has decided to call it a day at the end of this season, with 10 races left.
“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.
“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 is currently a lowly 14th in the Drivers Standings, not aided by missing the first two races of the season due to Covid, and his work as a climate and environmental activist this year – including an appearance on BBC’s Question Time in May – has often taken news precedent over his performances on track.
He continued: “Over the past two years I have been an Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team driver – and, although our results have not been as good as we had hoped, it is very clear to me that everything is being put together that a team needs to race at the very highest level for years to come.
“I have really enjoyed working with such a great bunch of people. Everyone – Lawrence, Lance, Martin, Mike, the senior managers, the engineers, the mechanics and the rest of the team – is ambitious, capable, expert, committed and friendly, and I wish them all well.
“I hope that the work I did last year and am continuing to do this year will be helpful in the development of a team that will win in the future, and I will work as hard as I can between now and the end of the year with that goal in mind, giving as always my best in the last 10 races.”
The German driver, who has raced for BMW, Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston, has won 53 Grands Prix during his illustrious career and secured 122 podiums – his last coming in Azerbaijan where he finished second last year.
Vettel’s last victory came almost three years ago at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, another circuit returning to the calendar this year after a Covid-induced three-year absence.
Aston Martin executive chairman Lawrence Stroll, whose son Lance is Vettel’s current teammate, said: “I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team over the past year and a half.
“We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that.
“He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable. He is one of the all-time greats of Formula One, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him. He will continue to race for us up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be his 300th Grand Prix entry. We will give him a fabulous send-off.”
Vettel will next be in action at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest this weekend and will face the media this afternoon following his announcement.
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack added: “Sebastian is a superb driver – fast, intelligent and strategic – and of course we are going to miss those qualities. However, we have all learned from him, and the knowledge that we have gained from working with him will continue to benefit our team long after his departure.
“Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team is a great project, with unlimited potential, and the groundwork that Sebastian has done last year, and is still doing this year, is crucial. When we become fully competitive – and we will – one of the architects of that future success will be Sebastian, and we will always be grateful to him for that.”