'Greater honour to call you my friend': F1 drivers pay tribute to retiring Vettel

FILE - McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and his teammate driver Jenson Button spray rose water on Formula One 2010 World Champion Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany after he won the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, Nov.14, 2010. (Luca Bruno/AP)

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel shocked the sporting world when he announced on Thursday he will be retiring from racing at the end of the season.

Vettel is one of Formula One's all-time greats with 53 Grand Prix victories — third behind only Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91).

His four consecutive drivers' championships came during a dominant period with Red Bull and were bookended with record-breaking stats. He became the youngest world champion in 2010 at age 23 while his fourth title in 2013 saw him enter the books with the most wins (13) and most consecutive wins (nine) by a driver in a season.

Beloved by drivers and teams, the F1 paddock was quick to salute Vettel as he now gets set for his final tour.

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