Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel “needs” to go back to Red Bull so he can have a competitive car at his disposal and once again demonstrate his speed, former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said.
The German joined Aston Martin for 2021 after a torrid final season with Ferrari the year prior, during which he was comprehensively out-paced by team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Vettel had joined Ferrari in 2015, and, despite having a strong car in 2017 and 2018, the 34-year-old was unable to win his fifth F1 crown with the Scuderia.
Many in the paddock tipped Vettel to be reinvigorated at Aston Martin, following his relationship with Ferrari clearly breaking down during the 2020 season.
He initially struggled to adapt to his new car, but later, in Baku, he scored the newly rebranded team’s first and so far only podium.
Discussing Vettel’s future in Formula 1, Ecclestone said the German should retire whenever he thinks it is time to hang up his boots.
“When he feels like it. He shouldn’t be told he’s got to retire,” Ecclestone said in an interview with Sport1.de.
He added that it’s difficult to know just how good Vettel is at the moment and said he should try to facilitate a return to Red Bull – the team he won his four world championships with between 2010 and 2013.
“We don’t know how quick he is anymore because he’s not in a competitive car – so it’s not easy to say he’s not as quick as he used to be. He needs to be back in Red Bull, actually.”
Late last year, Vettel admitted that he had considered retirement but said “the fire is still burning” for the time being.
“Of course, sometimes you ask yourself the question of meaning,” he said.
“I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet. “If I don’t feel the inner drive and ambition anymore and just stick with it to deliver messages or increase the bank balance, that would be a betrayal of the generation that is yet to come and live that dream… but the fire is still burning.”
Vettel finished 12th in the Drivers’ Championship in his debut season with Aston Martin, while team-mate Lance Stroll finished one position behind him in P13.
The German won Formula 1’s inaugural overtaking award last season.
Aston Martin ended 2021 seventh in the Constructors’ Championship on 77 points – 65 points adrift of sixth-placed Scuderia AlphaTauri.