The shock announcement comes after an Instagram account in the name of the four-time champion emerged on Wednesday evening.

Vettel’s first post on the aforementioned account was him announcing his retirement at the end of the season.

It brings to an end an illustrious career with four world titles (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013), 53 victories, 57 pole positions and 122 podium finishes.

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His career started with BMW-Sauber, impressing as a test driver before securing a full-time seat.

Vettel impressed throughout 2008, taking a sensational maiden victory at Monza in wet conditions, earning promotion to Red Bull alongside Mark Webber.

From 2009 to 2013, Vettel enjoyed his glory years as he beat Fernando Alonso (and others) to the title in 2010 and 2012, while dominating the 2011 and 2013 campaigns.

A lacklustre 2014 season saw him make his dream move to Ferrari for the following year, following in the footsteps of childhood hero Michael Schumacher.

While the title escaped Vettel, notably in 2017 and 2018, Vettel scored 12 wins with the Scuderia before being dropped by the team for Carlos Sainz

Hoping to lead Aston Martin's charge up the field, Vettel replaced Sergio Perez for 2021, and while he has finished on the podium for the team, the standout results have been lacking, leading to his ultimate retirement.

“I have had the privilege of working with many fantastic people in Formula One over the past 15 years - there are far too many to mention and thank. Over the past two years I have been an Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team driver - and, although our results have not been as good as we had hoped, it is very clear to me that everything is being put together that a team needs to race at the very highest level for years to come. 

“I have really enjoyed working with such a great bunch of people. Everyone - Lawrence, Lance, Martin, Mike, the senior managers, the engineers, the mechanics and the rest of the team - is ambitious, capable, expert, committed and friendly, and I wish them all well. I hope that the work I did last year and am continuing to do this year will be helpful in the development of a team that will win in the future, and I will work as hard as I can between now and the end of the year with that goal in mind, giving as always my best in the last 10 races. 

“The decision to retire has been a difficult one for me to take, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it; at the end of the year I want to take some more time to reflect on what I will focus on next; it is very clear to me that, being a father, I want to spend more time with my family. But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about saying thank you - to everyone - not least to the fans, without whose passionate support Formula One could not exist.”

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll added: “I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the great work that he has done for Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team over the past year and a half. We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that. He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable.

“He is one of the all-time greats of Formula One, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him. He will continue to race for us up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be his 300th Grand Prix entry. We will give him a fabulous send-off.”