Sebastian Vettel has said that he still feels the urge for competition, and that he intends to stay racing in Formula 1 until that fire goes out.
The German driver has started a new chapter in his career this season, switching to a leading role at the newly rebranded Racing Point team under the Aston Martin moniker.
With his four World Championships now firmly in the rear-view mirror, it's a transitionary period for Vettel as he tries to rebuild his reputation with a new team after a downward slide in recent years. Despite the lack of recent results, and the constant frustrations of issues and mistakes, Vettel is nowhere near ready to think about leaving.
“Why am I doing it? Because I love it,” Vettel said in an interview with The Guardian.
“Because I still want to prove to myself that I can do what I want to do, what I used to do and in a way that I am happy with.”
Having struggled to keep Ferrari's focus on him after they promoted Charles Leclerc in 2019, Vettel was unceremoniously dropped for 2021 and had to flail around the paddock to find a seat. Having succeeded in doing so, with Aston Martin, the short-term goal is merely to find some stability and then start working back towards the podium and, maybe, victories.
“In the big picture the target is quite clear,” he explained. “I want to be at the front of the grid, because I have been there so many times and I have learned to enjoy it.”
Having missed most of pre-season testing through technical issues on the Aston Martin, Vettel's first two races have also been blighted by technical problems, a driving error that resulted in a crash, and brake problems that forced him to start from the back and an ensuing penalty at Imola. Despite these problems, he claims he's not frustrated.
“I am not frustrated, I don’t think it would help,” Vettel said. “I am very happy where I am, in terms of results I am here to win but if at the moment a top 10 is our maximum then I am driving for that.
“I feel that my driving is good and strong but maybe not as consistent and to the level where I want it to be, I need a bit more time in the car and with the team. There are plenty of things that I can do better, that I have to do better and I want to do better.”
The Ferrari break-up last year could have provided Vettel with a natural, if slightly undignified, exit from the sport. With huge regulation changes around the corner for 2022, it appears the four time World Champion has every intention to continue racing and rebuild his legacy.
"As long as I still feel that will to compete I will be here,” Vettel said. “If that changes, I won’t be. It’s as simple as that.”