Sebastian Vettel is back in F1 – at least temporarily.
The four-time world champion surprised many mid-way through the 2022 campaign when he announced that he would be leaving the sport at the end of the year and, of course, we now have a grid without the German for the first time in a decade and a half.
Replaced by Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin, his former team have made a huge amount of progress since last year and so Vettel might well be forgiven for thinking he may have left the sport a little early – though ultimately he seems content enough with the decision that he has made.
Indeed, we’ve not seen him in an F1 paddock since the final race of the 2022 campaign in Abu Dhabi but that half-year hiatus has come to an end this weekend in Monte-Carlo, with him seeing some old friends over the course of Friday, as well as having a meeting with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
The German spent time in the Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, and Aston Martin garages too, with him of course driving for all of those teams during his career in the sport.
There was also a great image of him meeting Lewis Hamilton with the two clearly building a strong friendship during their time together in the sport.
For many of the years they shared the grid, they were rivals towards the front of the field, but they clearly had a growing respect for one another, and saw themselves as fighting for the same causes off of the track as well.
Vettel was a leading voice on the grid, and still is off of it, when it comes to the environment and social justice, and Hamilton has been just as vocal when it comes to serious matters that he cares about.
Let’s take a look at some of the images that were shared on social media yesterday from Vettel’s return:
When we next see Vettel in the F1 paddock remains to be seen, but he obviously still has a lot of friends within the sport and he’ll always have a great interest in it too, even now he is not driving.
We’re yet to see him enter a new full-time championship and so he is clearly enjoying his time away from racing, with one of the reasons for his retirement being that he wanted to spend more time with family – and who can argue with that.