Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mick Schumacher have paid tribute to Sebastian Vettel after the four-time world champion announced his retirement from Formula 1 on Thursday.
The Aston Martin driver will leave the sport at the end of 2022 after a stellar 15 year career, saying: ‘The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it.
‘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.’
Throughout his career, the 35-year-old has established himself as one of the most successful drivers of all time, and while a divisive figure during his title-winning years he is now one of the most widely-adored members of the F1 community.
Having both made their debuts in the 2007, Hamilton and Vettel have been firm but friendly rivals on the grid, battling closely for the title in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2018, with the German winning the former two.
‘Seb, it’s been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend,’ the Brit wrote on Twitter.
‘Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man.’
Another driver to quickly pay tribute was Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who was Vettel’s main inspiration and hero growing up.
Mick, now racing in F1 with Haas, has viewed Vettel as a father-figure and mentor, and added: ‘I’m so sad that you’re leaving, but at the same time excited for you and this new chapter of your life.
‘You’ve been and still are such an important person to me and I’m thankful for our friendship.’
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