Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel following the latter’s shock retirement announcement.
The pair shared a gripping rivalry over the years, especially during Vettel’s time at Ferrari where he ran Hamilton close for the championship title in both 2017 and 2018.
“Seb, it’s been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend,” Hamilton posted on Twitter. “Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal.”
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Like Hamilton, Vettel has been vocal outside Formula One about issues he feels strongly about, including the climate crisis and equal rights. He’s regularly taken the knee alongside Hamilton over the past few years, too. “I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man,” Hamilton said.
Speaking at the Hungarian Grand Prix, reigning champion Max Verstappen said: “At the end of the day he has achieved so much in this sport, that it’s fully understandable for him to retire.
“He’s had an amazing career. He’s won a lot of races; he’s won a lot of championships as well. And I think of course, he’s a great ambassador for the sport. So to see him go is… it’s something that you can see coming, everyone is getting older, at one point, everyone is retiring.
“And is of course, never nice when that moment arrives, especially, of course, for Seb’s fans. But these things happen. And I think it’s important now that he’s just going to enjoy his life with the family, because F1 is such a short period of time in your life that you work so hard to achieve all these things he has achieved and now it’s time to enjoy.”
His current teammate Lance Stroll said: “He’s achieved so much in this sport. He’s been a great teammate. I’ve really enjoyed working alongside Seb for the last year and a half. We still have half a season to go, but it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. And he’s achieved so much.
“And, you know, this was a chapter in his life that I think he’s now moving on from, he has a family at home and other things to look forward to in life. So, I wish him all the best going forward. He’s definitely achieved so much. It’s been an incredible career for him and we wish him all the best going forward.”
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz added: “First of all, I wish him all the best now, in the future that he has ahead that I’m sure he’s going to enjoy a lot with kids and family. For me he was, since the beginning, since even before arriving to Formula One, a great role model. I was privileged enough to be simulator driver when he was at his peak in Red Bull, winning the championships. I could see how professional he was, and it gave me a very good insight into how you need to behave, or how do you need to be, to be a successful Formula One driver like he was.
“I remember those years very well. He always had kind words for me, stop and have a chat with me, and give me some advice. He’s a great role model and ambassador for the sport, but not only for sport but I think also for a younger generation that is coming through, and a type of career that you would look up to no?
“Always getting on well with all the teams, with everyone. Everyone in the paddock loves him, you know? You will not hear someone speaking bad about Seb. I think this year speaks about his personality. He’s alive as a human being, not only as a driver, and I think we will miss him. But I hope that we can see him back in the paddock also helping the sport to develop in certain areas that I think he’s very vocal about recently. And I hope that he can keep giving us a hand in that in that side.”
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell added: “Such an inspiration and such a humble bloke I think. As Carlos said, nobody’s got a bad word to say about Seb. He’s good fun to be around. So I’m sure he’s going to be looking forward to, firstly the last half of the season, but everything he’s got planned for the future: family, kids, wife and I’m sure he’s not going to stop and… as I said, inspiration.”
The question now is, who will take his place at Aston Martin?
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.
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