Hungary’s BUDAPEST — Lewis Hamilton has referred to Sebastian Vettel as “one of the best people” Formula One has ever known, and he praises the German for being one of the few people to join him in recent years in speaking out about social concerns.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel made his decision to retire Formula One public on Thursday.
In addition to wishing to spend more time with his family, Sebastian Vettel stated that he wanted to devote more time to environmental activism, which has increasingly been one of his hobbies outside of racing.
In terms of a variety of social and divisive topics, such as racial and gender discrimination within and outside of F1, as well as protesting anti-gay laws, Hamilton and Vettel have easily been the sport’s most outspoken drivers. In support of the LGBTQ community during races in some nations, they have both commonly sported Pride colors before races or on their race helmets.
Hamilton, the only Black driver in Formula One, recently established a philanthropic foundation to support recruiting people to the sport and has urged F1 to do more to redress the imbalance.
Vettel, according to Hamilton, has been one of the few to support him in his efforts to bring about change.
Before this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton remarked on Thursday, “When I talk about the path that I’ve felt I’ve experienced in this sport and frequently feeling that it’s been quite lonely, he’s one of the few people who’s helped it not feel lonely.” He supported me through several challenges.
“I always recall him being quite vociferous at a drivers’ briefing at a press conference in Magny-Cours in 2007, and I knew then he would be a major character in the sport. He’s been so courageous in speaking up and sticking up for what he believes in after seeing his success and realizing that he puts people before himself.
“I believe he is one of the finest athletes we have ever seen, and we need more people like him. Sad because I’ve lost an ally on the grid in this aspect of the sport, but I know he’ll be doing wonderful things outside, and we’ll always be friends. I hope we can accomplish more things together outdoors.
The argument that Formula One will suffer if people like Hamilton and Vettel stop competing was rejected by Hamilton.
“No, we’re hoping that our efforts move it in the right direction. Seb has had a major part to play in the job Seb and I have been trying to achieve here, which has been lighting a fire and starting debates to leave the sport in a better state than it was when we found it.
There is still a lot of work to be done; I’m not sure if Seb will keep working behind the scenes in the sport. However, I do hope it will be at a better location and that our time was not wasted.
Since their debuts in 2007, Hamilton and Vettel have both dominated modern Formula One, taking home 11 titles between them.
Although they’ve never had time to meet outside of an F1 context, Hamilton said their relationship has gotten better as they’ve gotten older. He hopes to rectify that in the future.
When we were younger, we didn’t have time to stop and talk about what we do in our own personal life or things we care about. I think that when you’re focused on winning championships and everything. Over time, we’ve begun to encourage one another as we’ve seen one another make those courageous decisions and stand up for what we believe in.
“He has been very encouraging to me, and I hope that I have been encouraging to him as well. We share a lot more in common than just the consuming desire, I’ve realized. He has really just been kind of stepping out into the uncomfortable light and trying to work with the tools we have, and I think that’s why he stands out to me so much more than any other drivers have, past or present.
Hamilton also praised Vettel’s record on the racetrack, calling him one of the best competitors he has faced.
“On the racing front, he was really quick and very, very smart. I believe that the engineer is very, extremely accurate. Just a fantastic competitor all around.
Very strong, steadfast, and fair at the same time. He never held others accountable for mistakes; instead, he always put his hand up and admitted responsibility, which I always felt was honorable.
The Hungarian Grand Prix’s media day on Thursday was dominated by discussion of Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, which was revealed just hours before press events began.
Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion who appears to be a strong contender to succeed Vettel at Aston Martin next year, also had kind things to say about the German driver.
After so many years of sharing the track and having entertaining fights, he would be missed, the man remarked.
“Obviously, I participated in all of his championships in some way! He is a terrific man and a great champion, with strong morals and a beautiful family. I heard that his family was a factor in the choice. So best wishes to him, and maybe you’ll see him back in the paddock soon.