Sebastian Vettel says the prospect of his impending retirement from Formula 1 is starting to feel "real" with just three races left in his career.
Four-time World Champion Vettel announced his retirement in July just before the Hungarian Grand Prix - triggering silly season in the driver market, with Fernando Alonso set to replace his old rival at Aston Martin in 2023.
Vettel had been enduring a difficult final season in F1 with an uncompetitive Aston, but an up-tick in performance in recent races has seen him bank 18 points - including a stunning fightback to seventh in the US after a slow pitstop - and Alonso penalty.
The German now admits that stepping away from Grand Prix racing is starting to take its toll - but stands firm behind his decision.
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Vettel on retirement
"It is getting a bit more real," Vettel told media including RacingNews365.com before finishing seventh at Austin in the United States Grand Prix after leading the race for two laps.
"[After] Suzuka, I was a bit sad after qualifying, and Sunday was a little bit up and down with mixed emotions because the race was so different.
"I don't know how Abu Dhabi (his final planned race) will be from a result point of view, obviously, but I don't think we expect miracles all of a sudden.
"I also tend to look forward to what's next, maybe that's the F1 approach because we want to have a faster car at the next race, but I am excited about what is coming.
"It's not like I completely hate Formula 1 now and am happy to get out - but obviously I made the decision [to retire] and look forward to what is coming next."
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