Sebastian Vettel's most memorable moments on and off the track during his F1 career

Sebastian Vettel's most memorable moments on and off the track during his F1 career
'I believe in change': Sebastian Vettel announces his retirement from F1
Instagram/Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel prepares for his final Formula 1 race at this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after he announced his retirement at the end of the 2022 season.

The 35-year-old German driver made his F1 debut 15 years ago in 2007, and went on to win four consecutive world championships for Red Bull from 2010-2013 - with his first at the age of 23 making him the youngest-ever Formula 1 world champion.

In 2015, Vettel joined Ferrari for six seasons before joining Aston Martin in the 2021 season up until his retirement.

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Back in July, Vettel took to Instagram to announce his retirement from F1, telling fans: "The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it."

Despite an impressive career that has seen Vettel secure 3097 career points, 122 podiums, 57 pole positions and 53 wins, the racing driver previously told Sky Sports' Martin Brundle in 2019: "I don’t need to be remembered."

However, there's no doubt everyone will remember Vettel as one of the legends of the sport.

Here are some of Vettel's most memorable moments from his F1 career - on and off the track:

First F1 race win (2008)

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 14, 2008 in Monza, ItalyPhoto by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

A young Sebastian Vettel was racing for Red Bull's sister team Torro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri) and secured his and the team's first victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

After qualifying pole position, Vettel was able to win the race which started under a safety car due to heavy rain that eventually dried.

This victory made Vettel the youngest driver to win an F1 race at the time aged 21 years and 73 days (though this record has since been broken by Max Verstappen who won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016 aged 18 years and 228 days).

Becoming the youngest world champion (2010)

Race winner and F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing carries his winners trophy back to his changing room following the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 14, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesPhoto by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was where Vettel won his first World Championship and at 23 years and 134 days old, Vettel became the youngest driver to become a world champion - a record that he still holds.

It was also the first time Red Bull won the constructor's championship too.

"Multi 21" controversy (2013)

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing and second placed Mark Webber (L) of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing react in the drivers press conference following the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on March 24, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaPhoto by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In Formula One, rivalries between teammates can be expected and this was certainly the case for Vettel and fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber.

At the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, Red Bull infamously ordered both its drivers to maintain position aka the "Multi 21" instruction so that Webber's car remained ahead of Vettel's car.

Though, drama ensued when Vettel decided to defy this team order and instead passed Webber with 13 laps to go to clinch the victory.

There were tense scenes in the podium room afterwards as Webber reminded Vettel of the team’s command – the camera cut to the controversial race winner who was aggressively chugging a bottle of water.

When this event was later mentioned to Vettel in an interview, he provided the savage quote for his tactics: "I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won."

Nine wins in a row and quadruple champion (2013)

Race winner Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium with team mates following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

In the 2013 season, Vettel became the first driver to take nine successive victories in a single year after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix and also equalled the record of 13 wins in a season set by fellow-German Michael Schumacher in 2004.

It was also the season when Vettel won his fourth world championship, becoming a quadruple champion at the age of 26.

“Guys, I am so proud of you. I love you. Remember this, enjoy this moment. Yes. We did it. This is unbelievable," Vettel told his team over the radio after taking the chequered flag.

Ferrari years: Championship fights with Lewis Hamilton (2017-18)

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium with Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the United States Formula One Grand Prix and the championship at Circuit of The Americas on October 25, 2015 in Austin, United States. Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

"Everybody's a Ferrari fan," Vettel once famously said, and F1 fans certainly loved watching his battles with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton after he joined the Italian F1 team in 2015.

There were close-fought battles between the two in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, where Hamilton managed to win those championships in the end.

“I’ve got a really bad memory, but I’m going to say mine and Seb’s battles were my favourite up to now," Hamilton previously said at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Though the pair infamously banged wheels at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2017, as Vettel reacted when he thought Hamilton was brake-testing him by driving into his rival's car and was penalised for this move.

Recently, Vettel apologised for this, telling Hamilton in a press conference at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: "I think Baku for me wasn’t a great moment, because what I did wasn’t right…"

"But actually I think from that moment onwards…" he added to which Hamilton replied: "Our friendship got better!"

Aston Martin's first podium (2021)

Second placed Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 06, 2021 in Baku, AzerbaijanPhoto by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In 2021, Vettel left Ferrari to join Aston Martin but had struggles with the car's consistency after failing to score in the first four races of the season.

However, he managed to deliver the team their "unexpected" maiden podium after he started the race in eleventh place and finished in second place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku.

"I'm over the moon. I think for the team it's great – a podium – we didn't expect that when we came here," Vettel said.

Vettel's Activism

Vettel is known in the F1 paddock for raising awareness about different social issues from human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2021, Vettel was reprimanded after he wore a rainbow "Same Love" t-shirt in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community during the national anthem and called the country's controversial referendum on anti-LGBTQ+ laws "embarrassing."

Last year, Vettel even called out his own sport for not going far enough to make greener engines, calling the current regulations "useless".

While Vettel was spotted helping stewards pick up litter after racing in the British Grand Prix in Silverstone in 2021.

At the inaugural Miami Grand Prix earlier this year, the Aston Martin driver sported a t-shirt to warn about the predicted dangers of rising sea levels in that part of the world as a result of climate change.

The t-shirt read: "Miami 2060" and "1st Grand Prix underwater," along with an image of a driver wearing a helmet and using a snorkel underwater.

Vettel was one of the first drivers who spoke out against racing in Russia after the country's invasion of Ukraine and vowed he wouldn't race there if the Russian Grand Prix went ahead and F1 did end up permanently cancelling the race weekend due to the invasion.

"For myself, my own opinion is I should not go, I will not go [to Russia]. I think it's wrong to race in the country," he told reporters.

"I'm sorry for the people, innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed for stupid reasons and a very, very strange and mad leadership."

Question Time appearance (2022)

Back in May, Vettel joined the Question Time panel in London, making him the first active Formula One driver to appear on the BBC political debate show.

During the programme, Vettel was asked for his opinions on a range of different political issues such his view on Brexit as a German.

“I think the majority of German people don’t understand. I think there’s some things might be better, some things might be worse, I’m not the best judge here," he said on the matter.

"But what I can see is that looking at the size of problems that is ahead of us on so many levels, whether it is the environment, social justice, looking after people, we need to do this together. We will not pull this off just [as] one of us. And that’s where I don’t understand the push for Brexit and say that ‘we will take care of ourselves and everything will be great’.”

There was also talk of whether Vettel should be racing in F1, given the environmental impact of travelling around the world to race - a point Vettel confronted.

“I am not a saint but I am very concerned about the future. It is something I ask myself [whether I should be racing in Formula One] and travelling the world. It is my passion to drive a car and I love it, and every time I step in a car I love it, but when I get out of the car I am thinking: ‘is this something we should do, travelling the world and wasting resources?’

He also pointed out the value of F1, in terms of entertainment.

“On the other hand, we are entertaining people and during Covid, we were one of the first sports to start again. When everybody’s heads were about to explode there were F1 races on. In terms of entertainment, there are sports, culture, comedy and a lot of people who could not perform [during that time] and a lot of people missed that and if we did not have this in general we would probably go mad.

“There are things I do because I feel I can do them better. Do I need to take a plane every time [to a race]? No, not when I can take a car. There are certain things in my control and certain things I cannot control.”

Joining Instagram… to announce his retirement (2022)

Most F1 drivers are pretty active on social media these days, though Vettel was the exception for some time until he decided to join Instagram in July this year.

Fans were pretty chuffed that they would be getting more Vettel content off-track on their Insta feeds.

However, this excitement soon turned to heartbreak when his first post on the platform was to announce his retirement from F1.

"I hereby announce my retirement from Formula One by the end of the 2022 season," he said in a video statement.

"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's my life off track too. Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity.

"Next to racing I have grown a family and I love being around them. I have grown other interests outside Formula One.”

Though it looks like Vettel may use his social media following to promote his activism for different causes so hopefully, we will still see him off the track.

Vettel’s final race in F1 (2022)

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Aston Martin F1 Team, Stefano Domenicali, CEO of the Formula One Group, Mick Schumacher of Germany and Haas F1 and the F1 community pose for a photo as they prepare to take part in a group run in tribute to the retiring driver.Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the final race of the 2022 season and will certainly be an emotional one for fans as it is Vettel’s last race as an F1 driver.

We've already seen many drivers pay tribute to Vettel with their helmet designs, all of the F1 drivers dined together ahead of the driver's farewell to the sport, and there was a celebratory track run around the Yas Marina circuit on the eve of his final race.

If you want to tune in to watch Vettel's swansong, the final race of the season will air live at 1pm in the UK on Sky Sports.

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