Vettel: 'My hunger to win again is greater than ever'
Nico Rosberg shocked the world of F1 when he announced his retirement from the sport less than a week after claiming his maiden world championship title in 2016.
The German spent most his life working towards reaching the pinnacle of his profession, deciding to quit once he’d reached it to spend more time with his young family.
With the stress, strain and intense pressure that the F1 calendar entails, would Vettel be tempted to copy his compatriot’s decision and walk away from the sport for good?
“I don’t know,” the 30-year-old German driver tells CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies in an exclusive interview. “I don’t know much about his decision at the end of the day. I don’t know if it was spontaneous or if it was an intention.
“I guess it’s a very difficult probably the most difficult decision you have to make in your racing career or life.”
Vettel has achieved everything possible in F1 — setting new, historic benchmarks in the process — but the German is also conscious that there are few pastimes more thrilling than elite motorsport.
“Whatever comes after, you need to be aware of the fact that the source of adrenaline of rush, excitement, the biggest income in that regard is gone,” he says with trepidation.
“It will never come back. That will be difficult to make friends with. I’d assume it’s been hard for all the drivers to call it a day.
“You want to make sure that you lined up your ducks for the afterlife. The biggest challenge one day will be to quit and find something else that gives you a different sort of pleasure.
“You can drive other cars, but they’re not as satisfying as driving a Formula One car.”
Perhaps, however, Vettel is better prepared for life after racing than many of his contemporaries.
“Well, I’m happy with the small things in life,” he says, a content smile creeping across his face.
Born in Heppenheim, a modest, slow-paced town of 25,000 residents in western Germany, the 30-year-old recalls a place where children can walk to school without parents, or play unsupervised in the Old Town square.
Situated among vineyards and rolling, forested hills about an hour’s drive south of Frankfurt, you would be hard pressed to find a starker contrast to the life Vettel leads now.
He might have become accustomed to a life of private jets and five-star hotels, but Vettel admits the change in lifestyle was abrupt.
“I don’t think I got any preparation for this,” he laughs. “But then again, I got a lot because in many ways you can argue that all this (Formula One) is not the real world.
“But I think I’m fortunate enough to look back and say I had a real and normal childhood just like any other child.
“Maybe people always have the expectation of what our lives should look like, just because we have the opportunity. But then it’s my choice and you know I’m happy with a normal life, with normal things that give me satisfaction.”
Vettel openly admits that the superstar lifestyle that being a F1 driver affords him doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as a quiet night in with friends and family.
“I’m really happy when I’m at home, when I don’t have a huge perfect menu or buffet,” he says. “I have to do breakfast myself. In the end, you always want the things that you don’t have.
“I’m traveling a lot, so of course I appreciate sleeping in my own bed.”
Whenever Vettel has driven an F1 car, history seems to have followed in his slipstream. In 2010, aged just 23, the German became the sport’s youngest-ever world champion.
He would go on to win four successive world titles, making him the youngest double, triple and quadruple champion of all time.
His first crown came down to a four-way final race decider against Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.