Sebastian Vettel and childhood idol Michael Schumacher had the same problem with F1 that led to early retirement

Sebastian Vettel was perhaps one of the most popular drivers when he called time on his career to allow Fernando Alonso in at Aston Martin.

It had been a while since Vettel had last won the world championship after winning four successive titles with Red Bull.

Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Credit: gpfans.net
Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Credit: gpfans.net

Vettel was known as a perfectionist who always demanded a lot from his engineers and team. His feedback is one of the main reasons Aston Martin enjoyed a smooth transition with Alonso entering the fray.

However, having grown up admiring the legendary Michael Schumacher, some fans may be surprised to note that Vettel retired for exactly the same reason as his idol.

Schumacher and Vettel enjoyed a very close bond, with the senior driver very much acting as a mentor to his young German compatriot when he entered the sport.

Long-term F1 enthusiasts will remember how Schumacher allowed Vettel to pass him in his final race as a mark of passing on the baton.

Vettel not only looked up to Schumacher, but always had a soft spot for his family.

He repaid Schumacher’s mentorship when Mick joined the sport, offering him key advice on acclimatising to the demands of F1.

Schumacher’s philosophy towards racing was so far ingrained in Vettel that he even called time on his career rather abruptly and for the same reason as Michael.

Both drivers knew they were still fit enough to race at the top level for a few more years. Both drivers undeniably had more to offer the sport, but eventually it was the desire to spend time with their families that saw them retire.

Vettel had been vocal about his interest in environmental concerns and spoke about F1’s carbon footprint. This made him feel like a hypocrite in many ways for driving a fuel-guzzling car.

Having already made some arrangements in place to focus on sustainability issues, Vettel’s primary motivator was to put an end to his gruelling travel schedule and watch his children grow up as well as spend time with his wife.

While this video of Vettel sees him speak about the reasons that prompted his F1 exit, Michael Schumacher’s book titled The Edge of Greatness also explains a similar notion.

“Lap after lap I said goodbye to my life as a racing driver. This was the first time in my career that I asked myself, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I investing so much time into work if I’d rather be at home with my family,’” Michael writes in his book.

While Aston Martin has also shown tremendous improvement since Vettel’s retirement, Schumacher perhaps missed out the most by retiring in 2012 just before Mercedes’ period of dominance.

Had he still been a Mercedes driver, who knows whether he could’ve added to his world record seven F1 championships, or perhaps he would’ve even had rules in place that would prevent him from indulging in extreme sports.

Michael’s former boss Ross Brawn spoke about the potential he still had left in him when he retired.

 “It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that he may have hung up his helmet too early. He planted the seeds of success at Mercedes between 2010 and 2012,” Brawn said.

“And Fernando Alonso, at a similar age to Michael back then, shows today that you can achieve world-class performance even when you’re over 40. If Michael had still been active in 2014, he could have won the title.”

It is, of course, all just conjecture, and both drivers must have left the sport feeling they did it full justice.

Read more: Ayrton Senna’s ex-girlfriend says driver cried inconsolably, had sleepless night before life-ending crash in San Marino GP

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