Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber believes that his former Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel called time on his F1 career “a sneak early”.
Vettel opted to step away from the sport at the end of the 2022 season, bringing an end to his highly successful stint in F1.
The four-time World Champion has been competing in the midfield pack in recent years, having spent much of the 2010s contending for race wins and titles.
Webber, who partnered Vettel during his run of four consecutive titles, told Speedcafe that the 35-year-old’s timing might be slightly off.
“He got the timing bang on, I think. Maybe a sneak early,” Webber said.
“I think he still drives very, very well. I told him, ‘I think that you got this a bit early’, so we’ve had a bit of a laugh about that.
“But I’m stoked he’s in one piece, he’s had a great career. He was a juggernaut obviously in the early days and, on his day he could still do some special stuff.
“A four-time World Champion, not to be sneezed at, and he’ll be missed.”
During his Red Bull days, Vettel was often booed on the podium as fans grew tired of his continued run of success.
However, in recent years, Vettel has been praised for his outspoken nature on matters both related and unrelated to F1.
“Obviously, it takes time to to nurture into a role, with all the optics of your brand or whatever you stand for and all the rest of it,” Webber added, referring to Vettel’s progression in F1.
“It takes time because that’s just the maturity factor of yourself as a professional athlete, and also how the fans embrace that attitude that you put towards your racing.
“Of course, at the start of his career, it wasn’t overly straightforward! Obviously, I shared a few podiums with him which were quite controversial, to say the least, all around the world.
“But, at the end, I think that he’s been tremendous with reflection. He’s started to bring a lot to the sport, which might not have been the case early in his career.
“Results, yes, but in terms of as a World Champion, he certainly did a lot more at the end, which was brilliant. I take my hat off to that.”
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