Sebastian Vettel was left feeling emotional after a "dream" weekend at his final Japanese Grand Prix. The Aston Martin driver – who will retire from F1 at the end of the season – lined up in P9 on the grid and, despite an incident at the start of the race, recovered to finish in sixth place, equalling his best result of 2022 so far. Vettel narrowly managed to keep fellow World Champion Fernando Alonso at bay and was thrilled with his result during his final visit to Suzuka, a track he cites as one of his favourites. To make the weekend even more special, Vettel also claimed the Driver of the Day award, having earned 16.3 per cent of the fan vote.
Vettel reflects on his Japanese GP
Looking back at the race, Vettel firstly expressed his sympathy for the fans in the grandstands. The race was delayed by two hours after being red-flagged due to the heavy rainfall, and then ran for a reduced distance of 28 laps. "Obviously, it was a shame that we only got half a race – but at least the people in the grandstands got to see some racing," the German commented. "We were waiting in the dry for the restart, but I imagine it must have been rather unpleasant to sit outside in the wet for a couple of hours." In terms of the on-track action, Vettel said: "I got a very good start – but then I collided with another car at the first corner. "I really could not see anything – I am not sure, maybe I aquaplaned or I made a mistake – but I lost all the positions I had gained and ended up last. "When the race restarted, we made a good decision to box immediately for Inter[mediates]. It was a great stop, then I pushed like crazy and managed to undercut most of the field."
Emotional Vettel thanks fans
All in all, Vettel was delighted with his weekend at Suzuka, though admitted that racing there for the final time in Formula 1 was an emotional experience. "It has been a dream weekend – for us to score eight points is a mega result," the four-time World Champion concluded. "I feel sad to have driven my last race here, but it has been a wonderful weekend, and to all the fantastic Suzuka fans I can only say, 'thank you'." So great is Vettel's love of the circuit that he previously confessed that he would consider a one-off F1 return at the venue in the future. Footage released by Aston Martin showed the 35-year-old saying an emotive goodbye to the fans at Suzuka. Watch the video below...
It's not goodbye, it's see you later. Arigato gozaimasu, Suzuka. #F1 #JapaneseGP pic.twitter.com/ZYbFEjSE5Q — Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) October 9, 2022