Sebastian Vettel, the renowned Formula One champion, has made his first move in the sporting world since retiring from racing by investing in the newly formed German SailGP team. Teaming up with double Olympic sailing bronze medallist Erik Heil and team owner Thomas Riedel, Vettel has ventured into the exhilarating sport often referred to as 'F1 on water.'
Both Vettel and Riedel will contribute financially to the German team, while Heil, who achieved podium finishes at the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will take the helm of the 100km/h F50 hydrofoiling catamaran. With the addition of the German team, the SailGP field now consists of 11 competitors, gearing up for the opening event of the fourth season in Chicago on June 16.
Expressing his excitement, Vettel stated, "I see a lot of potential as SailGP enters its fourth season, especially with the introduction of a German team for the first time. There have always been parallels between sailors and Formula One drivers. The boats are captivating, and the speeds on the water are incredibly high. The races are thrilling, and I am delighted to be involved with a motivated group of young sailors."
Vettel also emphasized the sustainability aspect of SailGP, stating, "In addition, the series not only harnesses wind power but also strives to establish new standards for sustainability in sports." Throughout his Formula One career, Vettel actively promoted environmental causes, often wearing custom t-shirts and helmets to raise awareness.
Having clinched four consecutive Formula One drivers' championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013 and coming close to challenging Lewis Hamilton with Ferrari in 2017 and 2018, Vettel spent his final two F1 seasons with Aston Martin before announcing his retirement in July 2022.
With his involvement in the German SailGP team, Vettel intends to play a hands-on role in its management. The team was officially welcomed to the SailGP event by CEO Sir Russell Coutts during a ceremony in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
The upcoming 2023-24 SailGP season will witness strong competition from the three-time champions, Australia, led by Tom Slingsby, as well as the New Zealand team under the guidance of Pete Burling and Sir Ben Ainslie's British team.
Furthermore, the fourth SailGP season will introduce a fan-owned team representing the Caribbean and Bermuda. SailGP's commitment to sustainability, exemplified by the Impact League that ranks teams based on their environmental consciousness, would have undoubtedly appealed to Vettel, given his longstanding dedication to environmental causes.