Vettel announced his retirement from F1 on Thursday morning via his newly-created Instagram account before admitting a future without the sport “scared” him.

Hamilton was one of the first to react to the news on social media.

The pair’s rivalry and friendship stretched back to F3 in 2005 before they both made their F1 debuts in the coming years.

Hamilton and Vettel finally went head-to-head in a title race at Mercedes and Ferrari respectively, with the former coming out on top on both occasions in 2017 and 2018.

Since then, Hamilton secured the 2019 and 2020 titles before finishing runner-up in 2021, while Vettel was dropped by Ferrari, and then switched to Aston Martin.

Outside of racing, both drivers have been vocal on a range of issues such as racism, climate change and diversity in the sport.

Reflecting on the news in Hungary, Hamilton reaffirmed his desire and commitment to remain in F1 despite Vettel’s recent decision.

“It doesn’t,” Hamilton replied when asked if the news made him think about his future. “Its reminder that I am in that part of my career that people I came up with, and raced with for so long are starting to stop. Before you know it Fernando will not be here and then who it after that? I will be the oldest I guess. 

“It has not made me think about that because I am thinking about how I can improve this car, what the next step we need to get this team winning again, what is the road map to winning another world championship. What are the steps we need to do to have everyone aligned in this sport to do more to start truly reflecting the work we are trying to do in terms of diversity.

“When I talk about fuel left in the tank I am still fighting for those things and I still fell I have plenty to go. More likely than not if I stop I will still have fuel in the tank, I don’t think I am going to go as far as completely burnt out and have nothing left but hopefully that’s a long way off.”

‘One of few’ that made F1 career ‘less lonely’

Hamilton also revealed that Vettel made his time in F1 less lonely.

The seven-time F1 champion has often spoken about how isolated he has been, particularly at the start of his career.

“I would just say, naturally, my first feeling is it’s sad to see he’s stopping. I’ve not had a lot of time to think about all the journey we’ve been through together. When I talk about the journey that I’ve felt I’ve experienced in this sport and often feeling that it’s been relatively lonely, he’s one of the few people that’s made it not feel lonely. He stood by me through a lot of things. 

“I remember one of our first… I always remember 2007, a press conference in Magny-Cours and him being very outspoken in a drivers’ briefing and I knew then he would be a powerful figure in the sport. Then seeing his success and seeing that he puts others before himself… he’s been so brave in speaking out and standing for what he believes in. 

“We talk about legends in our sport… I don’t really love that name, that title, to be honest, but I think he’s one of the greatest people we’ve seen in this sport and we need more like him. Sad because I’ve lost an ally in this side of the sport on the grid, but I know that outside he will be doing great things and we will always remain friends and I hope there are other things we get to do together outside.”