Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he came “close” to retiring from Formula 1 altogether after losing his Ferrari seat for the 2021 season.

Vettel was not offered fresh terms by Ferrari for next season, leaving him out of contract and without a drive at the end of the year.

But on Thursday morning it was confirmed that the four-time world champion would be switching to Aston Martin for 2021 when it rebrands from the Racing Point team to replace Sergio Perez.

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Asked how close he had come to retiring from F1 during the drivers press conference ahead of this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix, which marks Ferrari’s 1000th GP, Vettel replied: “Close.”

“I don’t know if there was a measure of how close you can get, but it was close in terms of having a lot of thoughts and deciding ultimately I have to put myself first in that regard, what’s best for me.

“And what I have decided now I believe that’s best for me and I’m looking forward to prove that.”

Vettel believes the Silverstone-based outfit is well-placed to capitalise on F1’s upcoming regulation overhaul and already has strong foundations in place for short-term success.

“If you are fair right now with the judgement then obviously Mercedes has the edge over everybody,” he said.

“That’s not just valid for next year, they are probably in a very strong position for next year and the years after that.

“It’s a very exciting challenge and I’m looking forward to it. I want to race at the front of the grid, not at the back of the grid, and the team is giving me that chance.

“I think the team is ready to grow and I’m happy to do those things together.

“There is still some exciting news in the short-term, if you look at next year, the first year with the budget cap, we will see how it works and pans out.

“I think the team already this year is a much better place than in the past. It’s a team that is growing, while other teams have to grow down in size, if you look at all the big teams.

“So there’s lots of things which make me quite confident and happy but only time can tell.

“It’s an exciting project and I’m sure we will fight for some good results in the near-future and in the future after that.”

 

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