Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko fears for Sebastian Vettel’s motivation as he returns to action at the Australian Grand Prix after missing the first two races of the 2022 season due to him contracting COVID-19.
Nico Hulkenberg, Aston Martin’s reserve driver, stepped up to partner Lance Stroll in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
However, neither Hulkenberg nor team owner’s son Lance Stroll managed to score a point, leaving Aston Martin along with Williams as the two constructors yet to score points this season.
Ahead of the 2021 campaign, which ultimately turned into a disappointment, the Silverstone-based team rebranded itself from Racing Point, dropping from fourth to seventh in the standings with Vettel down in 12th in the Drivers’ Standings.
Marko saw Vettel win four world championships with Red Bull from 2010-2013, and after six less successful years with Ferrari, he advised him to take a year’s break for the 2021 season, rather than leaping straight into the Aston Martin seat.
Vettel did not take the advice and now finds himself getting his season started and running with the Silverstone-based team.
The team have said that they have had to sacrifice up to three-quarters of a second per lap in pace to try and resolve their “porpoising” issue.
The 78-year-old Austrian believes that Vettel still has the pace, saying: “You saw that in Baku (he finished second), and he was also very fast in Monte Carlo.”
However, Dr Marko has concerns about Vettel’s motivation due to the lack of pace in Aston Martin’s 2022 car.
“But where Aston Martin is at the moment, I don’t think the motivation will be too great,” he said.
“Aston Martin has to build a more competitive car. If you drive outside the points, the motivation is not the greatest.”
Vettel’s future was up in the air after Ferrari announced his contract would not be renewed ahead of the 2020 season, and there was speculation the German could return to Red Bull in place of Alex Albon for 2021.
That did not happen, with the team eventually choosing Sergio Perez instead to partner with Max Verstappen.
Perez’s position looks reasonably secure for the time being, but Pierre Gasly is most likely to be promoted if the Mexican’s services are no longer required.
In that scenario, Vettel going to AlphaTauri could become an option.
However, Dr Marko doesn’t believe the four-time world champion would be interested in such a move.
“I don’t think he is coming with that request,” he said.