Mika Hakkinen has paid tribute to Sebastian Vettel after the Aston Martin driver announced his intention to retire from F1 at the end of the season.
Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Vettel confirmed he will call time on his F1 career after 16 years in the sport.
At the time of the announcement, Vettel commented that he has a desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other activities.
Two-time F1 champion Hakkinen became one of the latest drivers to praise Vettel’s contribution to the sport, and his achievements for Red Bull and Ferrari.
“Sebastian has been a great World Champion, a fantastic ambassador for the sport and is very popular with the fans,” Hakkinen wrote in his latest column for Unibet.
“To win four World Championship titles at Red Bull was a really great achievement, and he came very close at Ferrari too. It’s easy to forget that he was the only one to really challenge Lewis’ dominance in 2017 and 2018.”
“Choosing the right moment to retire is never easy, but when you have won World Championships you definitely know the moment when giving 100 per cent is not going to be possible any more.
“In Formula 1 you need to have that total commitment to win, to do the work inside the team and accept the constant travel, together with the impact on family.
“Sebastian has clearly felt that moment is now, and I wish him every success for the future.”
Alonso-to-Aston Martin an “interesting” driver change
Vettel’s confirmed retirement has triggered plenty of activity in the driver transfer market.
In the days after Vettel’s announcement, Fernando Alonso revealed that he would be switching from Alpine to Aston Martin to take Vettel’s seat.
The move came as a surprise to some, not least because the suggestion of a ‘multi-year’ deal could keep Alonso in Formula 1 until the age of 44.
Hakkinen also commented that Alonso’s performances for Alpine mean he’s still deserving of a place on the F1 grid.
“The news that Fernando Alonso is to replace Sebastian at Aston Martin will surprise many people, but he remains very passionate about racing in Formula 1 and has shown some really strong performances at Alpine,” added Hakkinen.
“He really helped Esteban Ocon secure that famous win in Hungary last year. As a two times World Champion he brings a lot of experience as well as a big profile, qualities with the management at Aston Martin value highly.
“It’s a really interesting driver change for 2023.”