4-time F1 champion Vettel to retire at end of season

FILE - Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, and Mercedes Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, right celebrate after Vettel became Formula One World Champion 2010 at the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

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FILE - Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, and Mercedes Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, right celebrate after Vettel became Formula One World Champion 2010 at the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family, the German driver said Thursday.

Vettel won his four F1 titles from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019.

This season with Aston Martin, he has been largely unsuccessful with a best finish of sixth place.

“The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it,” Vettel said. “At the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next; it is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family.”

Vettel won 53 races, the third-highest total in F1 behind Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91). He won an F1 record 13 races in 2013.

Vettel became the youngest world champion at 23 in 2010 and later became the third driver to win four consecutive championships after F1 greats Juan Miguel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has since joined them.

“I love this sport. It has been central to my life since I can remember," Vettel posted on his Instagram video. "But as much as there is life on track, there is my life off track, too. Being a racing driver has never been my sole identity.”

Vettel's title bids with Ferrari were unsuccessful after promising starts were undone by driver errors under pressure. He led the standings at the midway point in 2017 and was in contention the following year, only to lose both championships to Hamilton. He crashed from pole position at the Singapore GP in 2017 and swerved off track into the barriers when comfortably leading the rain-soaked German GP the following year.

He was stunned when Ferrari did not renew his contract after he struggled to compete alongside newcomer Charles Leclerc in 2019, and again in 2020. He thought about retiring then, before joining Racing Point in 2021.

Along with Hamilton, Vettel has also been increasingly vocal about human rights conditions in countries where F1 races and environmental issues.

“I am tolerant and feel we all have the same rights to love, no what what we look like, where we come from and who we love,” he said. "I believe in change and progress and every little bit makes a difference."

At the Austrian GP in Spielberg three weeks ago, he wore a T-shirt with “Save the Bees” written on it. At the Canadian GP in June he had the message, “Stop mining tar sands. Canada’s climate crime,” written on his race helmet.

“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," Vettel said. "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 under way.”

Vettel's team is sponsored by Saudi state oil firm Aramco.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez said he understood Vettel's decision.

“It's extremely personal. It's how you feel and what you want to do, and your family," the 32-year-old Mexican driver said. “You put other priorities in place and you are not willing to pay the price of being an F1 driver. Because it has price.”

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AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth in Düsseldorf, Germany, contributed to this report.

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany answers to questions of journalists during interviews ahead of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Thursday, July 7, 2022. The Austrian F1 Grand Prix is held on Sunday July 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Credit: Matthias Schrader

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany answers to questions of journalists during interviews ahead of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Thursday, July 7, 2022. The Austrian F1 Grand Prix is held on Sunday July 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Credit: Matthias Schrader

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany answers to questions of journalists during interviews ahead of the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Thursday, July 7, 2022. The Austrian F1 Grand Prix is held on Sunday July 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Credit: Matthias Schrader

Credit: Matthias Schrader

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FILE - Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany cries on the podium after becoming 2010 Formula One World champion and winning the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.14, 2010. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

Credit: Luca Bruno

FILE - Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany cries on the podium after becoming 2010 Formula One World champion and winning the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.14, 2010. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

Credit: Luca Bruno

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FILE - Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany cries on the podium after becoming 2010 Formula One World champion and winning the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.14, 2010. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

Credit: Luca Bruno

Credit: Luca Bruno

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany runs at pit line during the qualifying session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Eric Gaillard, Pool via AP)

Credit: Eric Gaillard

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany runs at pit line during the qualifying session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Eric Gaillard, Pool via AP)

Credit: Eric Gaillard

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany runs at pit line during the qualifying session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Eric Gaillard, Pool via AP)

Credit: Eric Gaillard

Credit: Eric Gaillard

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the third practice session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Credit: Manu Fernandez

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the third practice session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Credit: Manu Fernandez

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the third practice session for the French Formula One Grand Prix at Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, southern France, Saturday, July 23, 2022. The French Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Credit: Manu Fernandez

Credit: Manu Fernandez

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

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Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is surrounded with members of his team at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, July 28, 2022. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

Credit: Anna Szilagyi

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FILE - Germany's Sebastian Vettel celebrates on podium after taking his Toro Rosso to victory during the Formula One Grand Prix in Monza, Italy, Sunday, Sept.14, 2008. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar, File)

Credit: Alberto Pellaschiar

FILE - Germany's Sebastian Vettel celebrates on podium after taking his Toro Rosso to victory during the Formula One Grand Prix in Monza, Italy, Sunday, Sept.14, 2008. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar, File)

Credit: Alberto Pellaschiar

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FILE - Germany's Sebastian Vettel celebrates on podium after taking his Toro Rosso to victory during the Formula One Grand Prix in Monza, Italy, Sunday, Sept.14, 2008. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar, File)

Credit: Alberto Pellaschiar

Credit: Alberto Pellaschiar

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FILE - German Toro Rosso Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel puts on his helmet during the first practice session at the Istanbul Park racetrack, Turkey on Friday, Aug. 24, 2007. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer, File)

Credit: DANIEL MAURER

FILE - German Toro Rosso Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel puts on his helmet during the first practice session at the Istanbul Park racetrack, Turkey on Friday, Aug. 24, 2007. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer, File)

Credit: DANIEL MAURER

Combined ShapeCaption
FILE - German Toro Rosso Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel puts on his helmet during the first practice session at the Istanbul Park racetrack, Turkey on Friday, Aug. 24, 2007. Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel says he will retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. The German driver won the F1 title from 2010-13 with the Red Bull team. His last race victory came with Ferrari in 2019. He has been largely unsuccessful this season with Aston Martin with a best finish of sixth place. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer, File)

Credit: DANIEL MAURER

Credit: DANIEL MAURER