Mercedes and now Red Bull crush Vettel’s F1 comeback dream

Sebastian Vettel’s aspirations for a grand return to the apex of Formula 1 seem to be fading away for the time being.

The celebrated four-time world champion, Vettel, had stirred the pot with whispers of a comeback, having recently dusted off two years of inactivity with a comprehensive test drive in Porsche’s Le Mans hypercar.

Yet, according to insider information relayed to the prominent German publication Bild, Toto Wolff does not view Vettel, 36, as a viable candidate to step into Lewis Hamilton’s shoes next year.

Dr Helmut Marko, the architect of Vettel’s entry into F1 and the guardian of his four back-to-back championships, confirmed that the path for Vettel’s return to Red Bull, where he secured 53 grand prix victories, is closed. Osterreich newspaper quoted Marko’s reaction to the idea: “Vettel should come to us? No, that’s not an option,” he stated unequivocally.

Despite Sergio Perez showing form improvements in 2024, his efforts have yet to clinch him a contract renewal post-2024 with Red Bull. Red Bull might find Carlos Sainz, currently out of favor at Ferrari and under Sauber’s (owned by Audi) intense scrutiny, a more compelling option.

Marko declared, “We won’t let ourselves be put under pressure,” in response to Audi’s push for a swift decision regarding Sainz. “Audi obviously wants a decision, but we’re taking a calm look at everything. When we have enough of an overview, we will decide on our drivers.”

Amidst the internal tussle within Red Bull, between the Austrian and Thai factions, rumors have Christian Horner favoring British-Thai driver Alex Albon for 2025. Albon, now with Williams, is seen by Horner as a potential champion in a Red Bull cockpit. However, Marko noted, “For that to happen, Albon would have to sit in our car. But he has a contract until the end of 2025.”

Suzuka was reportedly the backdrop for Perez and his sponsors pitching a three-year extension with Red Bull. “Everything is an option,” remarked Marko, considering the team’s current synergy. Yet, he added a caveat regarding Perez’s potential complacency with a two-year safety net.

“If he (Perez) has a secure contract for two years, there is a risk that he will slack off,” he stated.

Furthermore, Marko dispelled rumors that Suzuka marked his final race in his current role amidst speculation of friction and his diminished involvement in driver negotiations. “I’m discussing everything with Mr Horner,” he affirmed, signaling “business as usual” within the team’s operations.

GMM

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