Why Sebastian Vettel can’t imagine employment as a reserve driver after the 2022 Formula One season and why retirement is now becoming “more real “
Sebastian Vettel is quitting as a regular Formula 1 driver. That has been certain for months. But now the four-time world champion has hinted that he will not be active in the Grand Prix scene in another driving role in the 2023 season either: Being a reserve driver doesn’t appeal to him, Vettel said ahead of the 2022 US Grand Prix in Austin.
He said: “What does the reserve driver do? Come to all the races and do nothing?” That was “probably out of the question” for him. Vettel, however, stands by his statement from the Japanese Grand Prix a fortnight ago: He could imagine a one-off stand-in, but only “in Suzuka”.
In the short term, he says he wants to finish the 2022 season as well as possible and help Aston Martin make good progress for 2023. “Our ambition is to put a better car next year,” Vettel explained.
How Vettel continues to get involved with Aston Martin
Although he himself is “no longer involved” in all the proceedings with a view to the following season, “currently [I am] still part of the team,” the German said. “There is no reason for me to hold anything back. I’m not switching to another team. I say what I think. In that respect, nothing has changed from last year.”
The weaknesses of the current Aston Martin AMR22 are now well known to him and the team, he said. “The team is trying to fix them,” says Vettel. Behind the scenes, the team is investing heavily: “The team is growing. People are being brought in, the infrastructure is growing. A lot of things are happening and that will show in the future. “
But the same takes time, stresses Vettel, who has been competing for Aston Martin since 2021, and with “high goals”, which the team has not achieved. “That’s not a secret,” he continues. “Of course we would have liked to be a bit quicker in the two years and have a better car, but it’s getting slow. “
Aston Martin still aiming for sixth in the WRC
Aston Martin might even manage a respectable success in 2022: P6 in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship could be possible. At the moment, the team is only seven points behind Alfa Romeo, which has only scored once since the summer break with tenth place. Vettel’s team, on the other hand, has only failed to score once since the summer break.
That’s why Vettel is cautiously optimistic: “If things go as they have in the past races, we’ll manage [sixth place] already this weekend. We will see. The key will be qualifying again, where we will try to be within points’ reach. Then we hope for a good race. But in the midfield it will be tight again.”
Alfa Romeo has had a season with “a few ups and downs” so far, says Vettel. He is therefore “not sure” that Aston Martin will have an easy time. And: “We had two great races [in Singapore and Suzuka] where we were a bit lucky with the conditions. “
The announced retirement is becoming “more real” for Vettel
Will he miss Formula 1 all the more painfully in light of this? Vettel admits: Retirement at the end of the season will be “a bit more real “
“In Suzuka I was a bit sad after qualifying and Sunday was a rollercoaster of emotions because the race was so different. It’s a special place and I will miss it.”
“I don’t know how it will be [at the finale] in Abu Dhabi. From the result, we won’t expect miracles all of a sudden,” Vettel says.
“I tend to look forward more to what will come next. Maybe that’s the Formula One approach because you want to have a faster car in the next race.”
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s not that I completely hate Formula One now and am waiting to finally get out. But I’ve made the decision and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.” What exactly that will be, Vettel has so far remained silent about.