Runaway F1 2011 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has conceded that 'maybe in four or five years I will have no more desire' for the cut-and-thrust of top flight competition – hinting that like Kimi Raikkonen, he could elect to walk away from the grand prix grid before the age of 30.
At Istanbul in 2006, Vettel became the youngest competitor ever to drive on an F1 weekend, when he participated in Friday practice for BMW-Sauber; at Indianapolis the following season, he became the youngest points-scorer on his grand prix debut; at Monza in 2008, he made history again as the youngest pole position-holder and race-winner; and in Abu Dhabi last year, the German wrote himself into the record books once more as the youngest world champion, beating the previous record held by McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.
It has been a truly remarkable beginning to his F1 career, and Vettel's triumphs to-date have led to the man he replaced at Red Bull Racing two-and-a-half years ago – David Coulthard – tipping him to ultimately be 'the best driver ever' in the sport [see separate story – click here
The 24-year-old is currently speeding towards what looks all-but certain to be a second consecutive drivers' crown in F1 2011, and has pledged his future to Red Bull until at least the end of 2014 – but beyond that, he remains entirely non-committal.
“My contract is until then, and I am not really looking much further right now,” the 17-time grand prix-winner told the German edition of Playboy
. “Maybe in four or five years I will have no more desire for F1 and will want to do something different. At the moment, I can't imagine it, but you should never say never.
“The feeling I get when I'm racing is that it's so much fun and gives me more satisfaction than anything else in life. You have the tremendous forces on your body when you step on the brakes and turn the wheel; your brain screams, 'stop, that's impossible' – but then the car shows you that it can be done.”
The interview went on to reveal that despite the financial rewards for his success, Vettel retains comparatively simple and inexpensive tastes, with a Volkswagen bus one of his most cherished possessions, reasoning: “You can do everything with it – you can even plug a freezer into the cigarette-lighter! There is really nothing on which I need to spend very much money...”