Since Sebastian Vettel determined to retire from System 1 there was little or no indication he has any concrete plans to proceed racing afterwards.
In reality, Vettel’s rhetoric has indicated the other. The four-time world champion has remained brazenly ambiguous about what his future may embody.
Again on the Hungarian Grand Prix, on the day he introduced his retirement, Vettel stated: “Age-wise it’s not an issue to do the rest and to do extra in System 1.
“That’s not the restrict. I believe bodily I’m in nice type, I’ve zero downside driving these vehicles. So there’s nothing that may maintain me again on that entrance.
“I can’t say sure and I can’t say no. As a result of clearly the choice I’m taking now’s that this chapter is ending.
“I’m not saying this chapter is ending as a result of one other one is opening immediately and I’m driving different vehicles subsequent 12 months. That’s not the choice I’m taking.
“It’s actually an enormous change and the way I’ll cope.
“I don’t know. Time will inform. It’s in all probability the fairest reply I can provide proper now.”
Two months later and that message has not likely modified. The one concrete plans Vettel has for all times after F1 is a return to his beloved Race of Champions, an exhibition occasion that Vettel buys into like few others.
Vettel relishes being in a relaxed setting surrounded by legends of motorsport, driving uncommon vehicles. The occasion’s transfer to northern Sweden has solely served to extend that feeling and it’s no shock that Vettel has been confirmed as a returning champion in 2023, together with two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen and W Collection ace Jamie Chadwick.
“I can’t consider a greater place for my first race after I retire from System 1 than the Race of Champions,” Vettel stated when that was introduced this week. And that may be taken at face worth. It’s not lip service.
Vettel had principally confirmed the ROC return at Zandvoort when requested by The Race if he had any particular races he wished to focus on after F1. It isn’t simply the one assured race Vettel will do after 2022 – it’s the one one he was inquisitive about committing to immediately.
“No, I don’t have an inventory,” Vettel stated earlier this month. “Actually, if I give it some thought there’s a few issues come into thoughts however for now, possibly it sounds boring, however I’m fairly wanting ahead to having the time to consider every thing, and having time to decelerate.
“That is the rhythm I’ve identified since I can keep in mind. And I’m wanting ahead to a little bit of area and time.
“However then I do know myself as nicely, I do know that I’m pushed and often not managing to take a seat nonetheless for lengthy. So I’m positive that one thing will come up. However we’ll see what it’s.
“I’ll have the Race of Champions in January! So, the same begin after which a special 12 months afterwards.”
Whereas it appears seemingly Vettel will discover new racing pursuits past F1, he doesn’t seem like heading into retirement with a transparent concept of what’s subsequent – or if he’ll even wish to race competitively.
Unsurprisingly, Vettel expects to overlook the excitement of driving. He additionally suspects “there’s in all probability not likely a substitute” for F1.
If he makes his peace with dropping that then there’s a reasonable likelihood Vettel will suppose he can scratch no matter lingering aggressive itch he nonetheless has simply by having enjoyable in ‘lesser’ competitions, exhibitions, or personal driving experiences.
“I really feel I’m ready to be as a lot as I can to say that ‘it’s gone, it won’t be there’,” Vettel mused in July.
“If I wish to race one thing, I’m positive I’ll have the ability to consider one thing.
“However I believe it might be fallacious to step away understanding you continue to wish to race.”
That tallies along with his enthusiasm for issues just like the Race of Champions or his personal testing exploits in historic F1 vehicles.
It’s much less within the highlight, and extra about enjoyable. Vettel has at all times jumped at alternatives to drive for enjoyment and he’ll quickly have much more time on his arms to try this.
Are we more likely to see Vettel taking up the Nurburgring 24 Hours in a GT automobile utilizing various fuels? Or would he be extra more likely to take up one thing just like the Rahal household’s supply of an IndyCar check so he can expertise one of many correct, old-school American circuits he prefers a lot greater than the likes of the Miami monitor launched earlier this 12 months?
Who is aware of. It doesn’t sound like Vettel does, in fact. All he has let on is that he’s not ruling out something. He hasn’t elaborated on what else he has in retailer as a result of he’s preserving all choices open – from nothing, to no matter he fancies.
“Perhaps there could be extra of this nature [the Race of Champions], possibly I’ll determine one thing else out fully totally different away from the monitor,” stated Vettel.
“Perhaps I’ll be again in a single type or one other. I don’t know.
“I’ve seen too many different routes others have taken. I’d be ignorant if I used to be not different individuals’s selections and pondering that I’m all totally different – I come from the exact same world.”
As Vettel hints at, a spread of inspiration will be discovered by the previous few drivers to depart F1 on the finish of their careers – by selection, roughly, reasonably than just by dropping their drives.
Kimi Raikkonen walked away with minimal fuss, unsurprisingly, one 12 months in the past and centered on his household. Though the aggressive spirit is clearly nonetheless keen as he has made a one-time return in NASCAR’s high sequence.
Felipe Massa switched to System E, and turned to TV work. Jenson Button has embraced punditry as nicely, alongside racing in Japan (the place he received the Tremendous GT title) and making some sporadic sportscar outings together with making his Le Mans 24 Hours debut.
Nico Rosberg hasn’t raced a factor since his shock retirement on the finish of 2016, as an alternative specializing in investments and inexperienced applied sciences – and, after all, pundtiry. Mark Webber, Vettel’s outdated Purple Bull team-mate, turned to Porsche’s LMP1 programme to see out his driving profession however remains to be discovered within the F1 paddock as a TV pundit and can also be driver supervisor to Oscar Piastri.
The frequent thread between these drivers is a want to remain related to F1 ultimately and be paid to seem on tv. As Vettel hints at following others’ leads, maybe which means we are able to even contemplate that he has a future as a pundit too.
If he ever will get spherical to drawing up an inventory of issues he fancies doing in retirement, although, chances are high that won’t be wherever close to the highest.