Under-pressure Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is adamant he is not yet ready to retire from Formula 1 despite a challenging season which has seen his undisputed status as number one in the team was challenged by Charles Leclerc.
The tension and needle between the pair has been evident all season and recently culminated in a controversial coming together during the Brazilian Grand Prix which ended in DNFs and broken cars for both drivers.
Although a decade younger than upshot Leclerc, Vettel told DPA that he doesn’t feel like he is over the hill, “No, certainly not. I think age is not as crucial to us as it is in some other sports. But in the end, it’s the same with every sport – if you’re good enough, you’re still young enough.”
“I have been in Formula 1 for twelve years now and therefore I have a very different perspective than before. I judge things with a little more distance and not so quickly. It’s the luxury of having a few years on the clock.”
That said, Vettel insists that he is not yet thinking about retirement, even though his Ferrari contract runs out at the end of 2020, “I do not intend to retire in the foreseeable future. I enjoy racing a lot.
“But I think it’s normal that, twelve years later, I sometimes try to look ahead and think about what comes next. I don’t think it’s a good idea to just stop something that was so life-defining without an idea of how to go on.”
Vettel said the ideal time to end his F1 career will be when it is done on his own terms, “You should feel comfortable with the decision and be able to say: Enough! It’s not ideal when the time is dictated from the outside.”
“For me it is clear – once I stop, then I stop and will not come back. You have to be happy and be able to say: That’s it,” declared the 32-year-old four-times F1 World Champion who will line-up on the grid for the 240th time when he does so at this year’s season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.