Earlier this year, Sebastian Vettel was asked if he would be willing to re-join Red Bull in 2021, with him already on course to leave Ferrari at the end of this season.
But, is a Red Bull seat likely to become vacant anytime soon?
Max Verstappen has had a stellar start to the season – often challenging and splitting the Mercedes – and there’s absolutely no doubt his seat at Red Bull is safe.
Alex Albon, on the other hand, has struggled with the tricky-to-drive RB16 and has been outqualified by Verstappen (often by an alarmingly large margin) at all six of the Grand Prix contested so far this year.
Albon’s Grand Prix performances have been better, though he’s still a long way off Verstappen’s level.
This has prompted speculation that Albon could be demoted to the AlphaTauri team – as Pierre Gasly was around this time last year, back when it was called Toro Rosso – to make room for someone else.
For now, Red Bull have backed Albon, but one option is to give Gasly another chance in the Red Bull.
After all, he has been very impressive in the sister team this season, so he’s perhaps the strongest candidate if Red Bull insist on replacing Albon with someone in their current pool of talent.
However, at this point, it’s difficult to imagine Gasly returning to Red Bull.
Although Albon hasn’t picked up anywhere near as many points as Verstappen, his aggressive driving style and sharp race craft give him the upper hand over Gasly when fighting for the second Red Bull seat.
Carlos Sainz, who will fill Vettel’s seat at Ferrari next year, would have been a good option had Red Bull done a better job of retaining him within their pool of talent. The same can be said for Daniel Ricciardo.
Is a Vettel-Red Bull Reunion On the Cards?
Even for Vettel, matching Verstappen will be a tall order, especially given his recent form.
In some ways, he’s in a similar position to Albon, as he’s also consistently being outperformed by his teammate and is very much on the fringes of the team.
However, with four World Championships under his belt and several flashes of brilliance at Ferrari, Vettel would unquestionably make a strong number two at Red Bull and could even mount a serious challenge against the Dutchman.
The German’s history with Red Bull could also make him an attractive option for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
However, the fact Vettel left the team for Ferrari may dissuade Red Bull from re-signing him, but there are very few drivers of his calibre available for next season, especially now that Fernando Alonso has signed for Renault.
Whether or not Vettel will actually race for Red Bull again is still very much up in the air – and although it would certainly make the 2021 season more interesting, it doesn’t look particularly likely at the moment.
Instead, it seems Vettel will sign a $15 million contract to join Racing Point at the Belgian GP, according to reports from Italy.