Helmut Marko fears for Sebastian Vettel’s “motivation” as the Aston Martin driver returns to action at the Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel has missed the first two races of the new season after contracting COVID-19 in the lead-up to the Bahrain curtain-raiser.
Nico Hulkenberg, the team’s reserve driver, stepped up to partner Lance Stroll in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, performing creditably.
But neither The Hulk nor team owner’s son Lance Stroll were able to score a point, leaving Aston Martin along with Williams as the two constructors yet to get off the mark this term.
That follows a 2021 campaign that was also disappointing for the Silverstone-based team in the first year since their rebrand from Racing Point, dropping from fourth to seventh in the standings with Vettel down in 12th in the Drivers’ list.
Marko, of course, saw Vettel win four World Championships with Red Bull from 2010-13 and after six less successful years with Ferrari he “advised him to take a year’s break” for 2021 rather than leap straight into the Aston Martin.
Vettel, of course, did not take heed and now finds himself getting his season finally up and running in an AMR22 with which the team say they have had to sacrifice up to three-quarters of a second per lap in pace to try and resolve their ‘porpoising’ issue.
While “a motivated Vettel” could still fight for F1 podiums, in Marko’s view, the 78-year-old Austrian added during an interview with formel1.de: “You saw that in Baku (finished second), and he was also very fast in Monte Carlo.
“But where Aston Martin are at the moment, I don’t think the motivation will be too great.
“Aston Martin have to build a more competitive car. If you drive outside the points, the motivation is not the greatest.”
While Vettel’s future had been up in the air for a couple of months in the summer of 2020 after Ferrari had announced his contract would not be renewed, there was speculation the German could return to Red Bull in place of Alex Albon for 2021.
That did not happen with the team eventually choosing Sergio Perez instead to partner Max Verstappen.
Perez’s position looks reasonably secure for the time being, with Pierre Gasly most likely to be re-promoted should the Mexican’s services no longer be required.
In that scenario, could Vettel to AlphaTauri become an option?
“I don’t think he is coming with that request,” was Marko’s take.
Marko questions Vettel's Aston Martin motivation
Reb Bull's Helmut Marko has fears for Sebastian Vettel's motivation ahead of his return to Aston Martin this weekend at the Australian GP.