Thursday, ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, the four-time F1 world champion announced via his newly-created Instagram account that he would be retiring from the competition at the end of the season.
Vettel made his F1 debut in 2007 and enjoyed the height of his career with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, winning the world title each year. In 2015, he joined Ferrari, and in 2021, he will go to Aston Martin.
The revelation represents a significant shift in the F1 driver market for the upcoming season, freeing up a place with Aston Martin alongside Lance Stroll.
Vettel stated in a statement provided by Aston Martin, "The decision to retire was a difficult one for me to make, and I spent a great deal of time contemplating 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.
"But today is not about saying goodbye. Rather, it is an opportunity to express gratitude to everyone, including the fans, without whose enthusiastic support Formula 1 would not exist."
Vettel made his F1 debut at the 2007 United States Grand Prix as a one-off for BMW before being promoted to Toro Rosso midway through the season.
In 2008, he became F1's youngest-ever champion with Toro Rosso. The next year, he joined Red Bull, with whom he achieved his greatest success, winning the world title each year from 2010 through 2013.
Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 and competed for the world championship in 2017 and 2018, losing both times to Mercedes opponent Lewis Hamilton. He left Maranello at the conclusion of 2020 to finish his F1 career with Aston Martin.
Lawrence Stroll, executive chairman of Aston Martin and team owner, said, "I want to thank Sebastian from the bottom of my heart for the excellent work he has done for Aston Martin over the past year and a half."
"We made it clear to him that we wanted him to continue with us next year, but in the end he has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, and of course we respect that. He has driven some fantastic races for us, and, behind the scenes, his experience and expertise with our engineers have been extremely valuable.
"He is one of the all-time greats of Formula One, and it has been a privilege to have been able to work with him. He will continue to race for us up to and including the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will be his 300th grand prix entry. We will give him a fabulous send-off."