Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko believes that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel could return to Formula 1 in some capacity, including as a driver in the future.
Vettel retired at the end of last season to spend more time with his young family.
A strong advocate for social and environmental issues, Vettel also cited the sport’s contribution to climate change as a reason for his withdrawal.
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While the 36-year-old initially took some time away from motorsport, he has since involved himself in exhibition racing events like the Race of Champions, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Red Bull Formula Nurburgring.
Vettel also attended May’s Monaco Grand Prix before dropping by his former Red Bull team’s garage to visit Aussie Daniel Ricciardo during a tyre test at Silverstone.
Giving an insight into Vettel’s mindset in retirement, Marko suggested Vettel would like to make a return to the F1 paddock.
“I think Sebastian feels somehow without a specific task right now, he doesn’t know exactly what he should do,” he told Austrian television station ServusTV.
“The driver’s itch hasn’t left him and I believe his time behind the wheel isn’t entirely behind him.”
However, Marko was quick to dispel any notion of Vettel making his return with Red Bull.
With Max Verstappen locked in until 2028 and Sergio Perez left with a year on his contract, Marko said it would be difficult for the German to land a seat there.
“(Putting Vettel in the RB20) besides Verstappen, honestly, I don’t want to do that to him and now we have contracts,” he said.
“They’re set for a while, with Perez solidly on board until 2024.”
Marko also highlighted the strong crop of drivers associated with Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri.
“We already boast an experienced racer in Daniel Ricciardo,” he said.
“Should Sebastian decide to make a comeback, his ambition would naturally gravitate towards joining an elite team with a focus on capturing victories again.”
If Vettel did decide to return to the grid in the future, it appears that German team Audi’s entry into F1 in 2026 could be his golden opportunity.
The introduction will coincide with several new regulations including the rollout of a 100 percent sustainable hybrid fuel that Marko said would appeal to Vettel.
Racing veteran Fernando Alonso famously took a two-year break from F1 before returning to the circuit in 2021 for his 18th season.
Marko also suggested that Vettel may be interested in taking on a management role.
“It is not impossible that he will come back for a top management position. We had a conversation and if he could get a position like that, it could appeal to him. That became clear during the conversation,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“He certainly has the potential and the personality for it, but for now let’s let him plant a few trees.”