Sebastian Vettel says his farewell celebrations at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix made his retirement extra difficult.
Vettel opted to walk away from F1 at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
The German driver ends his career as one of the most established and successful drivers in the sport’s history, winning four world titles and 53 grands prix.
The weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit was full of commemorations for Vettel, which included a track run with hundreds of members from the paddock and messages from fellow drivers.
Vettel admits that the celebrations only added to the emotional nature of the event.
“It was a bit strange, you don’t really know what to expect,” Vettel told ServusTV.
“I’m very lucky that I was able to celebrate such a nice farewell. The recognition from the other drivers means a lot to me. It was something special, and that makes it twice as hard.”
Vettel’s final season in F1 was spent with Aston Martin, with much of his competition coming in the midfield pack.
His former team Red Bull, with whom he won all of his F1 titles, dominated en route to its first double title success since 2013 – Vettel’s penultimate year with the Milton Keynes-based squad.
Max Verstappen claimed his second world title by a sizeable margin, an achievement that was commended by Vettel.
“I can only congratulate Max – his performance in 2022 was phenomenal,” Vettel said. “There has never been a Formula 1 driver who has come along like that and also been a bit cheeky right away.
“He already has an incredible flair, you can see that when you see what he does with the car. And he reads situations in the race extremely quickly. You can only take your hat off to him.”
Vettel has not outlined what he plans to do away from the F1 circuit after his retirement.
However, he will be back in competition at the Race of Champions next year, partnering Mick Schumacher for Team Germany.
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