‘I will miss them’ – Vettel says forgettable final race for Ferrari made memorable by farewell gestures from the team
Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari swansong didn’t go as he might have hoped, as the four time world champion could finish no better than 13th in his final race with the team. But the Aston Martin-bound Vettel said the farewell gestures from his Scuderia team mates made it an “emotional” day in Abu Dhabi.
Having spent six seasons at Ferrari to become their third-most successful driver in terms of wins, Vettel is leaving Maranello to join the Aston Martin works team in 2021, as they rebrand from Racing Point. And he said his P13 finish in his final race was far from memorable, but the Scuderia’s send-off was one to remember.
“Well, I mean, this race I certainly won’t remember,” he said after his run to 13th under the lights at Yas Marina. “But what I will remember is the gestures of all the guys, the mechanics and so on. I think it’s been a different energy today, which I’ve felt, and that I will remember.”
While most runners pitted on Lap 10 during the Safety Car period for new tyres, Vettel stayed out and lasted 35 laps on his starting hard tyres, but after the race he said Ferrari’s strategy left him “vulnerable” to rivals who had gained time by pitting for new tyres under the caution period.
“I enjoyed it, especially at the beginning, a lot of fights,” he began. “The Safety Car obviously hurt us when we were most vulnerable with the hard tyres to stay out long, but we tried everything and for sure it was an emotional day with the mechanics waving goodbye on the grid. I think, I felt there was a different dynamic and tension there.
“I’m sad for the guys. I will miss them, but happy to embark on a new journey,” he added.
Vettel also said goodbye to Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, and had high praise for the 23-year-old Monegasque after the race.
“I’ll miss him,” said Vettel. “Obviously he was giving me a headache here and there and I think we are at very different stages of our lives and careers but certainly I think he is a good kid, he will go a long way, he will be the man of the future, so I hope that he gets the car that he deserves,” he concluded.
Next year, Vettel will join fourth-place constructors Racing Point and see them through their first season in Aston Martin colours alongside Lance Stroll.