Sebastian Vettel will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 season, the four-time world championship announced on Thursday.
Vettel is a current driver for the Aston Martin F1 team and his replacement is yet to be announced.
Although he failed to make much progress in his more recent years, Vettel remains one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport.
He has four world championships under his belt, all of them earned with Red Bull Racing, and he is behind only Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher for the number of wins. Vettel currently sits on 53 wins, while Hamilton leads all drivers with 103 wins and Schumacher having ended his F1 career with 91 wins.
"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 in a statement. “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.”
Vettel, who was born in Heppenheim, Germany, gained a love of motorsports during his early days in karting before moving to Formula BMW in 2003. This is where he showed real potential, taking top honors in his debut and dominating the series in the following year with 18 out of 20 wins.
In 2005 he moved into the European F3 before joining the BMW Sauber F1 team in 2006 as a test driver. The next year he would make his F1 debut by filling in for an injured Robert Kubica at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He finished the race at eighth place, proving he had what it took to be a top F1 driver.
During the 2007 season, he was signed up by Toro Rosso (currently AlphaTauri) and in the following season he would secure his maiden victory at a wet 2008 Italian Grand Prix. The next year he would be signed up by Red Bull Racing, where he would go on to win Drivers' titles from 2010 through 2013. After a poor season in 2014 littered with reliability issues, Vettel announced he was quitting Red Bull and would be joining Ferrari.
Vettel didn't find more success at Ferrari, with talk of a repeat of the Schumacher era quickly fading after his first couple of seasons with the Scuderia. He was replaced by Carlos Sainz at the end of 2020 and in 2021, Vettel would join his current Aston Martin squad. He will continue to race for Aston Martin up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the season. It will be 300th start in F1.