Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has said that he is expecting an emotional weekend in Abu Dhabi as he prepares for his final grand prix as a Red Bull driver.
Vettel confirmed in October that he would be leaving the team at the end of the season after five years as a driver and some fifteen in association with the Red Bull brand.
Although he is yet to formally announce his next move, Vettel appears bound for Ferrari as Fernando Alonso’s replacement, following in the footsteps of Michael Schumacher. The F1 legend walked on out Benetton at the end of 1995 to move to Ferrari before going on to win five world titles with the Italian marque.
Next weekend will not only see Vettel’s time as a Red Bull driver come to an end, but also his run as the current F1 world champion. Either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will be crowned at Yas Marina, where Vettel himself won the first of his four championships.
“I personally have very special memories of the Abu Dhabi circuit and race,” Vettel said. “It was here in 2010 that I became world champion for the first time in my favourite F1 car, the RB6.
“That was a weekend I will never forget and this year the race will mark another big moment in my career: my last race with Infiniti Red Bull Racing.
“Of course it will be an emotional weekend as we have great memories together, but I’ll enjoy the weekend with the team and with a bit of luck maybe we’ll get a final podium.”
Vettel’s title defence has been non-existent in 2014, mainly due to the dominant Mercedes W05 car that has left the rest of the grid reeling. With Ferrari, he may not immediately return to the front of the field, but the German will be looking to center himself at Maranello and lay down a new legacy away from Red Bull.