Formula One will miss Sebastian Vettel when he retires at the end of the season but the four times world champion has chosen the right time to go, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said on Saturday.
Horner had a close bond with the German when he was winning four successive titles with Red Bull from 2010-13, and also most of his 53 wins.
“It’ll be sad not to see him around. But I think the timing is right for him,” Horner told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“It’s not nice to see him running around in the middle of the field, he doesn’t deserve to be there. And I think the time is right for him to say, ‘Now’s the time for me to call time on Formula One’.”
Vettel has not won a race since 2019, when he was at Ferrari.
Now at Aston Martin, he qualified 18th of 20 drivers on Saturday after crashing in final practice.
Vettel said on Thursday, when he made his announcement, that he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests and ideas away from racing.
Now 35, he said he did not feel old or physically limited and recognised he was likely to miss the adrenalin rush of racing.
Horner said Vettel had been “incredible” in his time at Red Bull, on and off the track.
Behind the dominance and thirst for success, Horner recalled a personality who was both formidable and disarmingly down to earth.
“He worked hard, he worked late, and he had a great sense of humour, so fitting into a British team, he embraced the culture immediately,” he recalled.
“He endeared himself across all areas of the business, whether he was turning up with chocolates for secretaries or learning the lingo in the garage … his command of cockney slang became legendary.”
Horner said setting records had meant a lot, as had the support of fans — particularly in Japan where Vettel would insist on taking home every gift.
“Some of the objects were slightly weird, but he kept everything, he kept absolutely everything,” said Horner.