Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave the Formula One scene has led to plenty of speculation over what comes next, with the 35-year-old racing icon sure to have plenty of opportunities come his way.
Since announcing his retirement from F1 at the end of July, Vettel has already been tipped to take on a role within the championship hierarchy by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, but the German has hinted that he might go in a new direction entirely.
Speaking in a retirement announcement video, he noted that he believes in “in change and progress and that every little bit makes a difference”, while Vettel has also spoken often about the need to fight climate change, improve green technology and make sport a more sustainable environment.
Those traits are all paramount in another racing ecosystem: the all-electric championship Formula E, where series icon Lucas di Grassi insists Vettel would be more than welcome if he wanted a new challenge but to continue his racing career in a more sustainable environment.
“I would love it! We raced together many times, me and Vettel. In Formula 3 we did two years together,” Di Grassi told the Independent and other media on a call. Di Grassi is another who has been outspoken over the need to affect change in sport and in the wider world, pushing for improved electric mobility technology and a bigger emphasis on sustainability.
Di Grassi feels F1’s own attempts to improve their contribution toward the climate fight range between insufficient and hypocritical, but backs Vettel’s stance in speaking out and ensuring fans can hear what he has to say.
“It would be amazing to have him race here. I think a lot of sustainability talk in Formula One are not really making any difference. Like saying don’t use fossil fuels, and being sponsored by Aramco, does not really say much.
“So people like Vettel, he has become in the last few years much more conscious about the state of the world and what he can do to make it better, using his platform as a sportsman to try to make the world a better place.
“I think it’s very noble of him, he could just do his racing, stop, buy a boat and stay somewhere. It would be a pleasure to have him racing with us.”
While Di Grassi would be more than happy to see his old rival in the championship, he has also warned that it is a huge challenge to adjust.
Antonio Giovinazzi is a good example of someone switching to FE and struggling in his debut campaign, while Jake Dennis – Red Bull reserve driver in F1 and Avalanche Andretti FE star – has also highlighted the huge differences between racing in both cars.
However, next season in Formula E sees the introduction of upgraded vehicles, making it the ideal time for any new entrants to the championship to come in on a level footing.
“I don’t think it will happen, FE is a very difficult environment – although in Gen3 everything starts from scratch so it’s the perfect time for somebody to jump in like Vettel. And I’m sure he would be competitive,” Di Grassi continued. “It’s just that it takes time, Formula E is a very special racing series and it takes time, you don’t have practice sessions or testing days. But it would be a pleasure to have him racing with us.”
Di Grassi himself is celebrating after winning the most recent E-Prix, the second weekend race in London on Sunday after Dennis took top spot on the podium on the Saturday.
It puts the Brazilian within touching distance of 1,000 championship points in total in Formula E, with races 99 and 100 for the series approaching in Seoul for the season finale. And he had great praise for what was an extraordinary occasion at the ExCel, with several drivers commenting afterwards that it was a new standard-bearer for what was possible in FE.
“London one of the best events as a whole with the amount of people, the excitement, the show put on and the podium ceremony,” he said.
“The emotion was beautiful. The quality of the event was very, very high – it’s always very special. The way it’s organised was very good with the infrastructure.”
:: Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reaches its conclusion in Seoul, South Korea with a double-header on August 13 and 14.