Norbert Vettel, father of Sebastian, believes the next German talent to reach F1 could take years to be unearthed due to the cost of racing.
With Sebastian Vettel coming to the end of his Formula 1 career as he walks away at the conclusion of the 2022 season, the four-time World Champion has surrounded himself with his family at his final Grands Prix weekends.
Vettel’s father, Norbert, was a guest at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, and took to the commentary box for German TV to chat about all things Vettel and motorsport.
The topic of who the next great German talent might be was discussed, as the 2023 grid currently doesn’t have a confirmed driver hailing from the country – although Haas’ vacant seat appears to be a direct head-to-head between compatriots Mick Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg.
Norbert Vettel: Initial karting costs drives talent away
But Vettel senior reckons German talent won’t fill the grid any time soon, due to the costs involved.
“There are maybe 10, 15 people or children. Maybe there is someone who now says: ‘OK, I just want to start karting with my child.’ When they hear the first numbers, they’re already gone,” he said, as quoted by Germany’s Motorsport-Total.
Reflecting on his own experience with Sebastian, as well as Sebastian’s brother Fabian, Vettel said the chances of families nowadays being able to replicate their climb to F1 is nigh on impossible.
“We started karting with 5,000 marks,” he revealed.
“And I’m convinced that there are definitely parents or fathers who would say: ‘OK, now I’ll give up my holidays and start with Junior Kart and do it with mine.’ But they don’t have a chance today.
“If someone was there and would look after the young children, or look and say: ‘Now we have someone who has a talent and now we support him or try to find sponsors for him.’ But the chances are gone.
“Today, the trend is no longer ‘what does the season cost?’ The trend now is ‘what does the team cost? Where I can drive, that I’m the boss?’ And that’s not realistic.”
Norbert Vettel: It could be a decade of few German racers
For a sport that boasted a heavy Germanic presence on the driver front up until a decade ago, as well as having German brands Mercedes and newcomers Audi in F1, Vettel said there could be no German drivers on the grid in the not-too-distant future given the lack of opportunities for upcoming talent from the country.
“It would be a shame if we didn’t have a German driver next year or in the near future,” he said.
“Because, at the moment, I don’t see anyone coming up from Germany in the next 10 years.”
Currently, the only German drivers in F1’s feeder series are Lirim Zendeli and David Beckmann – neither of whom are in the top 15 in the F2 Drivers’ Championship in 2022, although Beckmann raced to a double points finish last time out at Monza.
Recent Formula 3 racer David Schumacher, cousin of Mick and son of Ralf, moved to the DTM for 2022, and was injured in a recent crash at Hockenheim.