Sebastian Vettel, a four-time Formula One world champion, has announced his retirement from the sport at the end of 2022.

The German, who made his racing debut in the 2007 US Grand Prix with BMW Sauber, confirmed the news on his Instagram account. It is worth noting that the 35-year-old driver has never had a social media presence in his F1 career previous to the announcement.

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His message to the world started off with Vettel presenting a side of himself that remains primarily off the tracks. “I love this sport. 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 track too. Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity. I very much believe in identity: by who we are and how we treat others, rather than what we do.”

“Who am I?” he asks reflectively as he goes on to say, “I am Sebastian. Father of three children and husband to a wonderful woman. I am curious and easily fascinated by passionate or skilled people. I am obsessed with perfection, I am tolerant and feel we all have the same rights to live, no matter what we look like, where we come from and who we love.”

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“I love being outside. I love nature and its wonders, I am stubborn and impatient. I can be really annoying. I like to make people laugh, I like chocolate and the smell of fresh bread. My favourite colour is blue. I believe in change, and progress and that every little bit makes a difference. I am an optimist and I believe people are good,” the F1 racer added.

Explaining his decision to retire, the German said, “Next to racing I have grown a family and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside of F1. My passion for racing and F1 comes with lots of time spent away from them, and takes a lot of energy.”

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He continued, “Committing to my passion the way I did and the way I thought was right, does no longer go side by side with my wish to be a great father and husband. The energy it takes to become one with the car and the team to chase perfection, takes focus and commitment.”

“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,” he said.

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The racer further clarified, “The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it; 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.”

“But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you – to everyone – not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula 1 could not exist,” he concluded the video statement.

Vettel, who drives with Lance Stroll, said prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix that this would be his 15th and final full Formula One season.

Vettel won all four of his crowns with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, and he is third all-time Grand Prix wins with 53.

Also read: Why did Sebastian Vettel leave Red Bull?

A six-year term with Ferrari yielded no fifth title, and he has only one podium during his one-and-a-half-year contract with Aston Martin, which concludes at the end of 2022.