Raikkonen, 42, will bring his time as an F1 driver to an end after the final two races of the year, in Saudi Arabia this weekend and Abu Dhabi the following Sunday. The Fin has built a glittering career over 20 years, winning 21 races across 347 grands prix – a record number of starts – while his tally of 103 podiums is the fifth highest of all time.
His career peaked when he won the world championship in 2007 for Ferrari, and he later returned to the team to partner four-time world champion Vettel between 2015-18.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Vettel hailed a driver who “hasn’t changed”.
“I think he was a true character and I enjoyed the time I had with him as a team-mate, but to be fair I got to know him already before,” Vettel said of Raikkonen. “He is probably one of the very few drivers I’ve met from day one until the present day that hasn’t changed in the sense that he has been very open, welcoming me as a young child or a young kid when I entered Formula 1.
“And at that time he was probably the most established Formula 1 driver, at least one of them. Great respect. I don’t think you can have an argument or a problem with Kimi. If you do, the problem is not him, the problem is you.”
The 34-year-old Vettel is still enjoying his time as an F1 racing driver for Aston Martin, and says he has no thoughts of retirement yet but that when it comes it will be because stopping feels “natural”.
“I think it’s a natural thing,” he said, sitting alongside young McLaren driver Lando Norris. “Time goes one way and at one point time comes for him, at some point time will come for me and at some point time will come for Lando, even though that’s a long way to go. It’s probably the most natural thing.”
Of the reserved Raikkonen’s famous efficiency with words, Vettel added: “He’s a great person and I’m sure we will stay in touch, so I wish him all the best – and I will miss the silence!”