RACING

Hamilton: Vettel ‘one of the few’ to make my F1 career less lonely

ADVERTISEMENT

Lewis Hamilton says former Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel ‘supported me through a lot’ and made F1 time less lonely, following news Vettel will leave F1 at the end of 2022.

Four-time champion Vettel announced his decision on Thursday ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix and will wrap up a more than 15-year F1 career at November’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.

ADVERTISEMENT

He and Hamilton both made their F1 debuts in 2007, but the latter – a seven-time champion – will continue to drive until at least the end of 2023, and possibly longer.

Speaking to Vettel News on Thursday, Hamilton said: “I didn’t have a lot of time to think, told the news this morning – I kind of knew it was going to happen because there had been hints, but obviously the realization is another thing.

“I would naturally say my first feeling is that it’s sad to see him quit. I haven’t had a lot of time to think about how far we’ve come together, but when I talk about the journey I lived in this sport and often feel like I’ve been alone, I’d say he’s one of the few people who have done it don’t feel alone.

“He supported me through a lot of things. I remember, I think it was in 2007 [2008] at Magny-Cours, and that he was very frank during the driver briefing and I knew then that he was going to be a powerful figure in the sport. But seeing his success and seeing that he puts others before himself, he’s been so brave to speak up and stand up for what he believes in.

“For me, we talk about legends in our sport, I don’t really like that name or that title. I think he’s one of the greatest people we’ve seen in this sport. We need more like him.

“So sad because I would have lost an ally [on the grid]but i know that outside he will do great things and i know that we will always remain friends, and i hope there are other things that we can do together outside.

Hamilton and Vettel were both title contenders before the last race of the season in 2010 – when Vettel claimed his first crown – before having head-to-head championship battles in 2017 and 2018, both won by Hamilton with races to spare.

Although their encounters on the track were not entirely free of controversy – with Vettel meeting Hamilton in Baku in 2017 under the safety car, and furious at being stripped of a win in favor of Hamilton in 2019 in Canada – it has never been the case. personal or particularly passionate, and Hamilton has always watched the rivalry with great emotion.

“The racing part of things, he was just incredibly fast, very smart, very good engineer, very precise on the track,” Hamilton said.

“He was never someone to blame others for mistakes. He could always raise his hand and say it was his fault, which I always found honourable.

They had also seemingly moved closer to the crown since those title battles, with the two perhaps the most socially conscious and self-aware drivers in F1.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Turkish Grand Prix Race Day Istanbul, Turkey

“When we were younger, we didn’t have time to stop and talk about our personal lives or the things we cared about. Over time, we started seeing each other, taking these brave steps, and standing up for the things we believe in.

“And we were able to support each other – he was so supportive of me that I like to think I was supportive of him as well. [We’ve] I realized that we had a lot more in common than just a passion for driving, and so this is really him, stepping out into the uncomfortable light and trying to do something with the platform that we have.

“And I think that’s, for me, why he’s so different from all the other drivers that have been here past and present.”

Hamilton added that he hopes Vettel will inspire the next generation of F1 drivers to use their platform and backed him to succeed in his next endeavors.

“In the outside world…we’ve never met outside of sports. He’s very- he’s going to be spending time with his family and all that, and I hope one day I can meet them.

“It’s generally been really nice to see the things he cares about, the things he’s talked about, the things he’s invested in, the things he’s into. And obviously we found there’s a lot of similarities in the things that we’re interested in – a few differences, he’s not into music like I’m into music, and he’s obviously into agriculture for example, the future development of that.

“But as I said, I think we will continue to be friends beyond.”

Fellow Brit Lando Norris said people didn’t understand how nice Vettel was and thought he had been unfairly portrayed in the past.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day One Sakhir, Bahrain

“I don’t think enough people know how good Seb is as a human, as a guy,” Norris explained. “His morals and character and everything. He means so well in everything. And he’s just very passionate about his work.

“And somehow people sometimes portray him in a bad way, which, if you know him, well, you can never imagine he would ever do such a thing. But that’s life.

“That’s exactly what’s happening in the world today, it’s crazy. But as a person, he’s always up for a chat, or he’s always there to help. And I guess maybe more in the last few years since I’ve been in Formula 1. He didn’t fight for world championships and stuff.

“So maybe he feels more open to talking to us, the younger generation, about things, whether it’s with racing or life away from Formula 1.

“He’s always open to chatting, which is always something you admire and have a lot of respect for when you’re also such big competitors at the same time.”

ADVERTISEMENT