Sebastian Vettel has confirmed that he was made aware of Fernando Alonso's switch from Alpine to Aston Martin earlier than most, and that he was partly surprised by the move.
Prior to the previous race in Hungary, Vettel announced that he will be retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the current season.
This started a chain reaction of driver transfers in the days after the Grand Prix, which started with Alonso being announced as Vettel's replacement at Aston Martin for 2023.
The move was seen as a surprise by many, considering that Aston Martin have fallen behind Alpine since the start of new technical regulations at the beginning of 2022.
Following the four-week F1 summer break, Vettel was asked if he was surprised by Alonso's decision to move away from Alpine.
"Yes and no," Vettel responded to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I was told on the Saturday or Sunday of Hungary and then, to be honest, I didn't follow any news in the break, just because it felt like a good strategy not to follow it.
"I'm interested in what's going on, with the regulations and with the cars and all of these things, but I thought it was a good choice to not follow any Formula 1 news.
"I had a couple of phone calls in the break, and people from the outside, friends that I got to see, they filled me in on what's going on. I heard it was quite turbulent, but I actually don't know what the current state is."
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Vettel sympathises with "talented" Ricciardo
The sequence of events that followed Vettel's retirement announcement included the Alpine debacle, where their reserve driver Oscar Piastri denied the French team's statement that he would race for them in 2023.
Instead, Piastri was rumoured to be in talks to take a McLaren seat for 2023, if Daniel Ricciardo's contract could be terminated a year early.
The first step for this has now taken place; Ricciardo and McLaren announced that the Australian would leave the team at the end of the 2022 season.
This leaves Ricciardo currently without a drive for next season, and Vettel jumped to the defence of his former teammate, describing him as "one of the best drivers".
"Obviously, maybe I have too much empathy for Formula 1 drivers, but I was very saddened by hearing what's going to happen to Daniel. I think it's a very, very difficult situation to be in," Vettel added.
"I think he's still one of the best drivers. I had the pleasure to race against him and the not so pleasurable side of getting beaten by him years ago, and I still think he has very much to offer.
"I don't know the details, but I guess McLaren failed to extract the potential that he has, and it's sad to see that he's been put in a difficult position.
"I wish him all the best, and I'm sure that ultimately the talent he has and the qualities he has will shine through."
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