July 28 (UPI) — Sebastian Vettel, a four-time Formula 1 champion, will retire at the end of the 2022 season, he announced Thursday on Instagram.
Vettel, 35, cited his desire to spend more time with his wife and three children and concentrate on his other interests as the reasons for his departure. His contract with Aston Martin ends at the end of the season.
“I love this sport,” Vettel said in a video posted to the social media platform. “It has been central to my life since I can remember, but as much as there is life on track, there is my life off the track too. Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity.”
Vettel sits at No. 14 in the Formula 1 season standings, which are led by defending champion Max Verstappen. Vettel claimed his four championships consecutively, from 2010 through 2013. The German owns 54 victories. His last win was at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.
“My goals have shifted from winning races and fighting for championships to seeing my children grow, passing on my values, helping them up when they fall, listening to them when they need me, not having to say goodbye and most importantly being able to learn from them and let them inspire me,” Vettel said.
Vettel also said he feels there is “much to explore and learn about life” and himself.
The Formula 1 veteran raced for Ferrari from 2015 until 2021, when he joined Aston Martin. He also spent time with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and BMW Sauber.
“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 released through the Aston Martin F1 team. “At the end of the year, I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next.”
Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll said team members “made clear” they wanted Vettel to return next season.
“But in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that,” Stroll said.
“He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable. He is one of the all-time greats of Formula 1, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him.”
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the next race on the 2022 schedule. That event will air at 9 a.m. EDT Sunday on ESPN.