Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes that four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel isn’t yet finished in Formula 1 as a driver, although the 80-year-old thinks it’ll take an offer from a “top-tier team” to get the German back in the sport.
Vettel retired from F1 at the end of last season, following a mostly unsuccessful two-year spell with Aston Martin.
The 53-time race winner retired to spend more time with his young family; however, Marko is convinced that Red Bull’s most successful driver will return.
Virtually all of Vettel’s success in F1 came whilst racing for Red Bull from 2009-2014, with his four consecutive titles having come in 2010-2013.
Some have pondered whether Vettel could even make a sensational return to the Austrians, although Marko has ruled this out due to the team having contracts with other drivers.
“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,” Marko told Servus TV.
“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.”
Even Vettel himself has refused to rule out returning to the pinnacle of single-seater motorsport, with him recognising how many drivers left F1 but then returned.
Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Robert Kubica are all examples of drivers who left and then came back, making Vettel believe he can’t “exclude” a return.
He has actually been linked with a return to F1 with Audi in 2026, who are reportedly keen to field a German driver for their maiden campaign in the championship.
By then though, Vettel will be 38 years old, which could be too old for a comeback.
A comeback isn’t on his mind currently, with him admitting that a return to the sport would only be considered depending on the challenge at hand.
“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’,” Vettel told Sky Sports F1.
“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?”