Lewis Hamilton: “Sebastian Vettel stood by me through a lot of things”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton says Sebastian Vettel is “one of the greatest people we’ve seen in this sport”, and adds he’s now “lost an ally in this side of the sport”.

Today, Sebastian Vettel has announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the year. Ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was asked to give his thoughts on his great competitor and friend.

“I kind of knew that it was coming as there had been hints but obviously the realization of it is another thing,” the Briton said.

“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 always remember 2007, a press conference in Magny-Cours and him being very outspoken in a drivers’ briefing — I knew then he would be a powerful figure in the sport.

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“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.”

Lewis went on to praise Vettel for his work on and off the track.

“On the racing part of things, he was incredibly quick, very, very intelligent. A very good engineer, I think, very, very precise on track. Just a great all-round competitor. Very fair but also very strong, firm on track.

“He’s never been someone to blame other people for mistakes, he would always put his hand up and say it was his fault, which I always thought was honorable.

“Naturally I think when you’re focused on winning championships and stuff… when we were younger, we didn’t have time to stop and talk about what we do in our own personal lives or things we cared about.

“Over time we’ve started to see one another take those brave steps and standing up for things we believe in and been able to support each other.

“He’s been so supportive to me and I’d like to think I’ve supported him also. I’ve come to realize we have a lot more in common than just the driving passion.

“It’s really kind of been him standing out into the uncomfortable light and trying to do something with the platform that we have and I think that’s why for me he’s very much unlike any other drivers that have been here, past or present,” Hamilton concluded.

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