Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes that Sebastian Vettel could return to the F1 grid at some point in the near future, but that the legendary German driver would only come out of retirement for a top drive.
The four-time world champion called time on his F1 career at the end of the 2022 season after two underwhelming seasons with midfield strugglers Aston Martin, citing his commitments as a father and ideological beliefs as part of the reason for his retirement.
However, a recent interview with Martin Brundle opened up the conversation about a potential return to racing after the 36-year-old German refused to rule out the possibility of a sensational revival of his F1 career.
Speaking to ServusTV, Marko said: “I think Sebastian feels somehow without a specific task right now, he doesn’t know exactly what he should do. He has to make a decision somewhere. I think the driver’s time is not over for him yet.
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“Besides Verstappen, honestly, I don’t want to do that to him and now we have contracts. They last relatively long. Perez is fixed until 2024.
“We already have an experienced driver like Daniel Ricciardo and when Sebastian returns, I think all he wants is to be in a top-tier team and look for wins again.”
Vettel’s last shot at fighting for race wins (his ill-fated 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix aside) came during his stint with Ferrari, which came to an end after the 2020 season, in which he finished 13th in the standings with just 33 points compared to the 98 of team-mate Charles Leclerc.
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Speaking to Sky Sports F1 about his future and the prospect of an F1 return, Vettel said: “I can’t say no, because that you don’t know. I think it’s something that if you asked all of them, probably some of them would have said ‘no’.
“And some of them I don’t know, but in the end, all of them came back, so I can’t exclude it. It probably will depend much on when, and obviously, it’s not endless, because 36 is not like, ‘yeah in 10 years’ time’.
“Maybe I think about it then time has passed but it will depend on the challenge, whatever, but it’s not in my head right now. And I’m enjoying the sort of outlook of the challenge of what to do next. It will be the way I see it, the biggest challenge for any racing driver and the biggest challenge for any sportsman, sportswoman, what do you do after?”
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