Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel says he will miss the challenge of competing alongside — and often against — his departing Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

The 37-year-old will retire from Formula 1 after the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit on Sunday, reports Xinhua.

The pair have endured an often fiery relationship during their four years as colleagues, but Vettel put the rivalry aside to praise the Australian during a press conference here Thursday.

“Generally people have a worse impression than the relationship we had,” the German said.

“People tend to forget how successful we have been. I think it has been one of the strongest pairings in Formula 1.

“We obviously didn’t have the best relationship on a personal level but in terms of working professionally together for the team it has been very strong. Both of us have tried very hard to improve the car and surely the fact that he will not be around next year will be a loss for the team, a loss for myself, because it has always been a huge challenge.

“I have learned a lot from him and I can stand up straight and say that there were many, many times, many places where I have benefited from him. You could obviously say the same thing the other way round but, as I’ve said, we’ve been extremely successful together.

When asked if he would allow Webber to cross the line first in his farewell race, the four-time world champion replied, “First of all, it’s not worth thinking about Sunday because it is Thursday, so there’s a lot between.

“Secondly, it’s not worth thinking about certain circumstances because a lot of things have to happen before you can think about those and I think Mark is a sportsman and he doesn’t want a win to be handed over to him. I think it would be the same the other way round.”

Webber said he had mixed feelings about leaving the sport, but insisted he was making the right decision.

“I still feel I’m driving well but I don’t want to be around not driving well,” Webber said.

“I want a fresh challenge, a new chapter in my life personally and professionally.”

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