Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel won’t rule out making a sensational return to the Formula One grid.
However, the legendary German driver admits it’s not something he’s thinking about right now.
Vettel retired from F1 at the end of last year following a hugely successful 15-year career, which included four titles, 53 wins, 57 pole positions and 122 podiums across 300 grand prix.
Such is his popularity and ability however, that the 36-year-old has been touted for a comeback on multiple occasions, most notably just before the 2023 season started.
When Lance Stroll injured his wrist on the eve of pre-season testing, Aston Martin explored the possibility of bringing Vettel back for the opening round in Bahrain, though Stroll was eventually passed fit to race anyway.
Nevertheless, the rumour mill keeps spinning and though he is enjoying retirement, the former Red Bull and Ferrari star has suggested he could return to the cockpit one day.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Vettel was asked if he was keeping himself race-ready and replied: ‘Yeah, but because I want to, not because I’m like, come back or if somebody falls out I’m going to [step in], not because of that.
‘But so I guess my neck is not up to speed. No, it can’t be, but everything else is pretty, pretty good, I would say.’
It is not rare for past champions to return to F1 after a hiatus, with Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Nigel Mansell, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost prominent examples.
Put to him that he could follow suit, Vettel said: ‘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”. 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 when 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?
‘Because naturally you will be like 30-35, 40-45 – depending on your sport and discipline. And then what?
‘There’s a lot of life left and life can be great even though you’re not racing, you know, the absolute limit in the fastest car in the world, but you can still do lots of great things that give you great pleasure.’
The 2023 F1 season continues this weekend with the Singapore Grand Prix, a race Vettel has won a record five times, with his triumph in 2019 the last win of his career.
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