Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the year.
Vettel is out of contract with Aston Martin at the end of this season and, after weeks of speculation about his future, has now confirmed he will be stepping away from the sport at the end of 2022.
Vettel made the announcement via an Instagram account launched on Thursday. Before the announcement, the German driver had spent his whole F1 career without a social media presence.
He made clear that he wants to spend more time with his family as well as focusing on environmental issues, which he has dedicated an increasingly large amount of time to in recent years.
"Next to racing, I have grown a family who I love being around. I've grown other interests outside of Formula One," Vettel said. "My passion with racing and Formula One comes with lots of time spent away from them, and takes a lot of energy.
"Committing to my passion the way I did and the way I think it is 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 see 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. Children are our future, further I feel there is so much to explore and learn about life and about myself.
"Speaking of the future, I feel we live in very decisive times. And how we all shape these next years will determine our lives. My passion comes with certain aspects that I have learned to dislike. They might be solved in the future, but the will to apply that change has to grow much, much stronger and has to be leading to action today.
"Talk is not enough and we cannot afford to wait. There is no alternative. The race is underway. My best race is still to come. I believe in moving forward and moving on. Time is a one way street and I want to go with the times.
"Looking back is only going to slow you down. I look forward to racing down unknown tracks and will be finding new challenges
"The marks I left on track will stay until time and rain will wash them away. New ones will be put down. Tomorrow belongs to those shaping today. The next corner is in good hands as the new generation has already turned in. I believe that there is still a race to win.
"Farewell, thanks for letting me share the track with you. I loved every bit of it."
Vettel joined Aston Martin at the start of 2021 from Ferrari, where he had driven since 2015. Vettel spent six years at the famous Italian team hoping to emulate the records of his boyhood hero Michael Schumacher but failed to secure a title with Ferrari.
But his legacy as one of the sport's most successful drivers was secured during his time at Red Bull, where he won four consecutive titles from 2010 to 2013.
To date, Vettel has taken 53 career wins, 38 with Red Bull, 14 with Ferrari, plus his debut win with Toro Rosso at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.