It's a wrap for Sebastian Vettel. The four-time Formula 1 champion is retiring after this season, his 16th.

Sebastian Vettel still loves Formula 1, but the fulfillment has disappeared as the wins have dried up.

After 16 seasons, the last two with a struggling Aston Martin team, Vettel is retiring and relieved to be leaving, although he still does not know what he will do next.

''I know how much dedication goes into this, and if you do it I am convinced you have to do it the right way,'' Vettel said. ''The aim has always been to win and compete at the front, so I don't get much pleasure from being here and just being part of it.''

His career has yielded four world titles, with Red Bull and 122 finishes on the podium, which includes 53 wins. His last win came in 2019 in Singapore when he was with Ferrari, where he spent six seasons.

''I'm very much looking forward to have nothing scheduled, no commitments,'' he said. ''What that does to me?I think it will do a lot of things to my head, but I'm curious to find out what exactly that will be.''

Vettel said he had ''lots of ideas and things I would love to do.'' Over the past few years, he has shone a spotlight on sustainability and the environment and spoken out on behalf of L.G.B.T.Q. community.

'' My concern for the environment is one of the factors that definitely played a role in my decision to retire, seeing the world changing and seeing the future in a very threatened position for all of us, and especially for generations to come,'' he said.

'' I understand that part of my passion, my job, relates to things I am not a fan of. I am traveling the world, racing cars, burning resources. It is something I cannot look away from, and once you see these things, once you are aware, I don't think you can really unsee. ''

VETTEL HAS HELPED STUDENTS in Austria build a bee hotel, collected rubbish from the grandstands at Silverstone after a British Grand Prix and visited a plant in Iceland that collects carbon dioxide from the air.

Before the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Vettel visited the SOS Mata Atlantica organization to learn about the reforestation of a logging area of Brazil.

'' At some point, all of us will have no choice that we are all going to be activists because we have to actively push to survive,'' Vettel said. '' It sounds really dramatic, but it's something that will catch up with us very, very soon.

'' The more I look and the more I get into all of this, it's great to raise awareness, to plant a seed and make people look at what's going on and help to understand, because once you understand you start to care, and once you care, you're happy to help.''

Formula 1 has provided Vettel with a platform to voice his opinion. He said his ''views would not be retired and abandoned'' because he was retiring. 

''It would be the wrong motivation to keep doing what I have always done just to express an opinion on some topics,'' he said. '' Maybe I will lose voice and reach, but they have never been at the foreground.''

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes said he was ''sad'' to see Vettel leave formula 1, as a rival, friend and fellow activist.

''It has been an unexpected relationship and friendship,'' said Hamilton, a seven-time champion.'' It is so difficult when you are so competitive and you are both fighting for something you are passionate about.''

Vettel said he was leaving Formula 1 without ''any real regrets''.

''I had a lot of highlights, a lot of great races, great people that I got to know and work with,'' he said.  He recently said that his first win, at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, stood out : '' It was an incredible race with incredible emotions.'' 

Vettel said he had a good time in his career.

''It's been a privilege, and I'm very happy to take all of this, everything I learned, everything I was able to experience, all the support that I got as well to hopefully boost me in the next chapter''.

The World Students Society thanks author Ian Parkes.


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