Helmut Marko believes Sebastian Vettel can still fight for wins, but supports retirement decision

Sebastian Vettel is set to leave Formula 1 when his Aston Martin deal expires at the end of this season.

Dr Helmut Marko supports Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire from Formula 1, emphasising that racing is no longer at the top of his list of “priorities.”

Vettel worked with Dr Marko for several years as part of the Red Bull programme, and he was given a Toro Rosso seat in late 2007 after an impressive debut with BMW Sauber at the 2007 US Grand Prix, when he deputised for the injured Robert Kubica.

The German was then awarded a full-time seat with the Italian squad in 2008, taking his first win at the Italian Grand Prix that season.

This earned him a place in the main fold for 2009, taking four wins as he finished second in the Drivers’ Standings behind Brawn’s Jenson Button.

Four consecutive world titles would follow with the Austrian side, but a horrible start to the V6 hybrid era saw the now 35-year-old move to Ferrari.

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He challenged Sir Lewis Hamilton for the championship in 2017 and 2018, but Mercedes ultimately had too much for the Scuderia as they ran out champions in both seasons.

Vettel was out-performed by Charles Leclerc when the Monegasque replaced Kimi Raikkonen at the Maranello-based side, and he moved on to Aston Martin last year.

However, the performance of the British team has not been as expected, and Vettel’s focus has begun to switch towards his fight for equality and social justice.

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He spoke of his family on his retirement speech, and vowed to keep pushing for a better world after his career, so Dr Marko agrees that the time is right for his former driver to move on.

“I found this speech in which he announced his resignation very strong, it shows that his interests are now going in a different direction,” he told Sky Germany.

“And of course, you also have to take into account that he didn’t have a competitive cockpit and probably wouldn’t have found one either so for me, the decision is absolutely the right one.”

Vettel was a stickler for detail during his time with Red Bull, and this work ethic spread throughout the whole team, including juniors like now Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

This was the reason for the success Red Bull enjoyed between 2010 and 2013.

“With his meticulousness, Vettel fitted our DNA perfectly. Everything worked together perfectly,” added Dr Marko.

“He has other priorities now and doesn’t even make it onto the podium with his car, so it is logical that he draws this conclusion.

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“If you don’t put your heart into it, you can’t just go on.”

The 79-year-old also spoke highly of Vettel’s Aston Martin replacement, Fernando Alonso.

The Alpine driver has impressed with his ability to draw the most out of the car at 41 years of age, so he eagerly anticipates whether the next phase of Lawrence Stroll’s five-year championship plan will prove fruitful for the Spaniard.

“He’s still super fast, it’s unbelievable how much he still delivers and for me is the surprise of the year,” added Dr Marko.

“I even think he’s still capable of victories as a driver, the only question is whether Aston Martin can provide him with the package.”

Alpine were taken aback by the news of Alonso’s departure, and even more so when Oscar Piastri denied that he will be replacing the double world champion.

The young Australian is now expected to sign with McLaren in a move that could see Daniel Ricciardo return to Alpine next year.