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Sebastian Vettel: Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to retiring Formula One rival

Sebastian Vettel has announced that he will retire from Formula One at the end of the 2022 season; Vettel won four successive World Championships between 2010 and 2013; Watch the Hungarian GP live on Sky Sports this weekend, starting with Practice One at 1pm on Friday

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F1 drivers paid tribute to Sebastian Vettel after his retirement announcement.

Lewis Hamilton has praised rival Sebastian Vettel for supporting his anti-racism campaigning, after the four-time world champion confirmed he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season.  

Vettel announced on Thursday, ahead of this weekend's Hungarian GP, that he will sign off at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, which will mark his 300th race.

Hamilton and Vettel both made their F1 debuts in 2007 and would go on to share 10 of the next 13 World Championships from 2008 onwards.

Vettel was repeatedly alongside Hamilton as the Brit took a knee to protest racial inequality during the 2020 season, and has also been a vehement campaigner for other human rights and environmental issues.

"There's no lack of bravery in Sebastian," Hamilton said on Thursday, having earlier paid tribute to Vettel on social media.

"He has been one of the very, very few drivers in racing history that has stood for much more than himself. He's used his voice in things that I've fought for and stood by me, he's taken the knee, he's gone on his own journey and stood on the grid and fought for things that he believed in, and for the greater good.

Sebastian Vettel takes a knee alongside Lewis Hamilton
Image: Vettel repeatedly took a knee alongside Lewis Hamilton

"I think he's just a really beautiful human being and I'm really grateful to have been here in a time that he was racing.

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"Watching his World Championships was impressive. I'm sad to have arrived today and seen the news, but I know whatever he goes and does beyond this is going to be even better."

After making his debut in 2007, Vettel went on to win four consecutive world championships for Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, the first of which made him the sport's youngest title winner.

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Take a look back at Vettel's journey to winning his four F1 World Championships for Red Bull.

The 35-year-old German, who spent six seasons with Ferrari after joining the Italian team in 2015, will see out the remainder of his final campaign with Aston Martin.

Vettel is currently third on the list of all-time Grand Prix winners with 53 victories, trailing only Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, while his 13 victories in 2013 leave him tied with Schumacher for the most wins in a season.

'You could never count him out' | 'Everyone in the paddock loves him'

Several other drivers paid tribute to Vettel as they spoke to the media on Thursday.

Charles Leclerc (Vettel's Ferrari team-mate 2019-20)

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel 2019
Image: Charles Leclerc and Vettel were team-mates for two seasons at Ferrari

Definitely a legend of this sport. For me, I've spent two years in the same team as Sebastian and I've grown a lot as a driver and as a person.

I went through this path together with him, so he has seen me change as a person, which I think there's a special connection as a result of.

He's always been super nice and this is what I'll miss most about Seb, is just the person that he is. Just a simple, very nice guy. I hope he will still come to see us in the races next year.

Daniel Ricciardo (Vettel's Red Bull team-mate 2014)

It's in a way sad of course because you're losing a bit of a legend of the sport really.

Obviously personally, I spent some time alongside him which was a privilege. I learned a lot in 2014 alongside him and even before that, being a reserve driver and just being around the team and watching how he would work. He had a lot of good traits and a way to get people behind him and rally. He's just a very driven individual and we'll certainly miss him.

He's a very in-tune driver, very knowledgeable about the sport because he's just lived and breathed it. It was like it was everything. It sounds kind of simple but he just knew everything that was going on so you could never count him out.

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Vettel has explained further the reason why he has decided to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.

Fernando Alonso (second to Vettel in 2010, 2012 & 2013 World Championships)

(It's) not the news that I want. There were some rumours last year that maybe he stops, but this year it came true.

An amazing driver, a legend of our sport. I spent so much time and (had so many) battles with him over my career with him.

So I will miss him, and not only as a driver, I think he has very strong values and is a very good human being. I wish him the best and we will miss him.

Mick Schumacher (mentored by fellow German Vettel)

He'll leave a big hole behind, that's for sure. It's obviously something that probably hits me a bit more than some others, just because I lose a friend in that sense.

Obviously, I will see him beside the track, but on track and just having somebody that you can talk to, it's definitely a loss.

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Simon Lazenby is joined by Martin Brundle to discuss Vettel's retirement and look ahead to this weekend's Hungarian GP.

Max Verstappen

He has achieved so much in this sport that it's fully understandable for him to retire. To see him go is something that you can see coming. Everyone is getting older and, of course, it's not nice for Seb's fans but these things happen and now he can enjoy time with his family.

In F1 you work so hard to achieve all these things he has achieved and now it's time for him to enjoy himself.

Carlos Sainz

For me, even before arriving in Formula 1 he was a great model. I was privileged enough to be a simulation driver when he was at his peak with Red Bull, winning the championships. I could see how professional he was and it gave me a good insight into how you need to behave and how you need to be, to be a successful F1 driver like he was.

Everyone in the paddock loves him and you will not hear someone say a bad thing about Seb. I think that speaks to his personality - his life as a human being not only as a driver.

We will miss him and I also hope we can see him back in the paddock to help with the development in certain areas that I think he has been very vocal about and I hope that he can keep giving us a hand on that side.

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