Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the Hungaroring on Thursday. The 2022 season will be the 35-year-old's final campaign in the sport that has brought him four Drivers' World Championships.

It came as a shock to the F1 paddock as the German racer revealed that he wanted to remain in the sport beyond 2022 just a week prior. As it stands, Vettel will leave the sport with 53 race wins and 122 podium appearances and multiple records including most wins and pole positions in a season.

"I hereby announce my retirement from Formula 1 by the end of the 2022 season. Probably I should start with a long list of people to thank now, but I feel it is more important to explain the reasons behind my decision," Vettel said as part of a lengthy statement explaining his decision to retire.

"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," he added.

"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 1 could not exist."

Tributes poured in from all across the grid as drivers and teams reacted to the news of the four-time world champion calling time on his F1 career. It was also no surprise that most of his colleagues focused on Vettel's humility and desire to help the sport rather than his achievements on the track.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton led the way with a touching tribute. It was followed by Vettel's protege Mick Schumacher, who was among many drivers that labelled him a role model and an inspiration not only on the track, but also off it.

"Seb, it's been an honour to call you a competitor and an ever greater honour to call you my friend. Leaving this sport better than you found it is always the goal. I have no doubt that whatever comes next for you will be exciting, meaningful, and rewarding. Love you, man," Hamilton wrote.

Vettel feels the retirement announcement is a weight off his shoulders and is hoping it will allow him to race more freely going into the final 10 races of the season.

"I don't see that I'll have a trouble motivating myself for the next 10 races," he said.

"I feel a little bit the opposite. I feel that obviously this decision has been in my head for so long now and has taken so much energy, to be honest, and maybe even at times distracted me a little bit, that I'm quite relieved and looking forward to the next races..."

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the 2022 season. AFP / William WEST