On Friday an era ended when Sebastian Vettel officially parted company with Infiniti Red Bull Racing – but it’s been a great six years and everyone wanted to say goodbye properly.
And so today Seb popped in to the factory for a final round of applause, several – thankfully brief – speeches and a selection of going away gifts, only some of which were rude.
The lobby of Building Two, home of the race bays, was festooned with German flags and hot chocolate and pretzels were served. For those who've been on Mars for the last six years, a video loop of Seb's greatest hits was playing. The whole team assembled – at least as many of us that could fit into the race bays with the rest hanging off the rafters on the mezzanine – and we had one last group photo with Sebastian. Christian said a few words, Adrian said a few more and finally Seb stepped up: "You're not making this any easier," was his opener.
"The last six years have been incredible," he continued. "What we've achieved, the work that's gone in. So much passion, so much dedication. It will always stay in my heart. Big, big thank you to everyone. In the end we had the better car because we were the better team. Thank you really doesn't really describe enough what I feel."
Christian presented Seb with a goody bag to take away. It featured an espresso cup, some very tight red Speedos and a pair of sunglasses – none of which have ever been required in Milton Keynes – and a few other items that, for the sake of Anglo-Italian relations will go unmentioned. Seb also got a 50 per cent scale model bull with his championship laurels engraved on the plinth. One of his championship-winning cars will also be finding its way into his garage – but not just yet because, as Christian explained, "we don't want it turning up in Maranello."
Adrian was uncharacteristically voluble when it was his turn with the microphone. "Whenever Sebastian's been in the car he's been carrying all of our hopes, our ambitions," said our chief technical officer. "But we've always known that he's putting everything of himself into it as well. It's been a real privilege."
Before things descended into frankly embarrassing man-hugs, Seb waved goodbye and went over to the main factory where he'll be spending the rest of the day signing kit and memorabilia for pretty much everyone in the factory. "There's a lot of happy memories from this place that I'm holding onto," he said in parting. "It's been a great journey and I've very grateful for what all of you did for me. I'll shut up now."
Best of luck Seb. We'll miss you.