Sebastian Vettel admits retirement ‘crossed my mind’ with new vow ahead of 2022 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel sits in Aston Martin Formula One car

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Sebastian Vettel has admitted he contemplated retirement before committing to Aston Martin again for the 2022 F1 season. In September this year, the four-time world champion finally ended speculation over his future by signing a one-year contract extension with the Silverstone-based team, maintaining his driving partnership with Lance Stroll.

Vettel, 34, endured a mixed first season with the team after joining from Ferrari, finishing 12th in the drivers’ standings with 43 points.

He did a notch a podium place when he was second at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but had another runner-up finish expunged at the Hungary race after his car failed to provide the one litre sample of fuel required.

However, the German legend still managed to finish the season with silverware, with his 132 overtakes – the most of any driver – landing him the inaugural Overtake Award.

He has also become renowned for speaking out in F1, and following the controversial end-of-season finale in Abu Dhabi, admitted to having issues with the FIA and their perceived lack of consistency.

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Vettel has also questioned the environmental impact of his sport, and despite having no social media presence, has also won favour for speaking out on LGBTQ issues.

That had led to speculation he would walk away from F1 to focus on campaigning for other matters, but during an interview with F1-Insider, he said while the thought had crossed his mind “fire is still burning” to keep driving.

“Of course, sometimes you ask yourself the question of meaning. I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet,” he said.

“But I don’t go on just to convey messages. Then I wouldn’t be true to myself and I wouldn’t be as good.

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“If I no longer feel the inner drive and ambition and only stick to it to convey messages or increase the bank balance, that would be a betrayal of the generation that is yet to come and live the dream.

“After all, I can still take care of certain issues when I’m no longer driving. But the fire is still burning.”

The 2022 campaign will also see the introduction of new technical regulations, designed to make the sport more competitive, with teams like Aston Martin expected to challenge more regularly at the top end of races.

In September, the group also began construction work on brand-new buildings – a new factory and a new wind tunnel – with Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll previously saying the huge investment was part of his vision to turn the team into title contenders.

Vettel however, was cautious on that notion.

“The new rules offer a great opportunity in 2022. But we also have to remain realistic and not talk about being favourites, but look at how good our car is,” he added.

Vettel began his F1 career as a test driver in 2006, and has taken part in every campaign since, winning four consecutive titles with Red Bull from 2010-2012.

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