Red Bull resist multiple Sebastian Vettel requests to return with main reason revealed

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel pictured together in 2013.

Helmut Marko has revealed Sebastian Vettel has enquired about the chances of a return to Red Bull, and why the team isn’t going for it.

Vettel retired from Formula 1 at the conclusion of the 2022 season, having spent two years in the midfield with Aston Martin – but it appears the German’s hunger for competition hasn’t yet faded.

Helmut Marko: Sebastian Vettel has asked Red Bull ‘again and again’

Having had a quiet 2023 at home with his family, Vettel recently returned to the cockpit of a top-end racing car as he tested with Porsche for their pre-Le Mans preparations as the possibility of being added to their line-up seemed realistic.

Despite a competitive test, the link-up between Porsche and Vettel didn’t happen – at least, not for the time being.

Over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Vettel also led the driver tributes for the late Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, with the four-time F1 World Champion driving a McLaren MP4/8, the last car Senna drove for a full season, around the Imola racetrack.

But while Vettel has downplayed the chances of a full comeback to F1, Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko has revealed the German driver – who won all four of his titles with Milton Keynes and continues to have a strong relationship with the team – has enquired about a comeback.

Red Bull has an unconfirmed seat for 2025 as Sergio Perez’s contract comes to an end, but Marko said lining up alongside Max Verstappen wouldn’t be an ideal comeback scenario for Vettel.

“He has asked us again and again,” Marko revealed to Formula1.de, as quoted by Motorsport-Total.

“But next to Verstappen, I don’t think that would be a pleasant time for him.”

Marko, who worked directly alongside Vettel during his entire tenure at Red Bull – including Vettel’s junior career – said he doubts the German will make a return to F1 due to the demands on time it requires, with a primary reason for Vettel’s retirement being a desire to spend time at home with his young family.

It’s for this reason that Marko believes Vettel could be tempted into top-level sportscar endurance racing as the World Endurance Championship races over just eight rounds annually, branding it “a good solution” for the four-time F1 World Champion.

While Vettel’s age doesn’t count against him, being several years younger than Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, Marko said he doesn’t see a comeback happening as he simply said: “Comeback? Where?”

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Speaking over the Imola weekend, after climbing out of Senna’s McLaren, Vettel said part of him wishes he was racing in a competitive car in F1 but that retirement outweighs that desire.

“I’m enjoying my time, especially with the kids,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com.

“Obviously, I miss Formula 1 on days like this when the sun’s out, people are here, full house. I wish to be in a competitive car and just be on the grid.”

At that point, Vettel was quizzed on whether this means a comeback is on the cards, though he moved to cool that thought.

“It doesn’t look like [it],” he said. “Because I think I have a very distinct way of how to do things.”

But pressed on whether he misses F1 and would like another shot, Vettel replied: “Well there are lots of things that I miss, yes, but there’s also things that just don’t work sort of together.

“It was a very tough decision. It still hurts. I think it’s better now after one-and-a-half years of distance, but yeah, I think I’m very much at peace with it and enjoying my new life.”

“There’s lots of things that I miss, there’s also things that I don’t miss, so it’s always a give and take,” he said.

“I mean, Formula 1 these days is very, very intense. You look at the schedule, the amount of races, I think it’s not just something you feel as a driver, I think you’re probably lucky there really, but also as mechanics, engineers, working in the Formula 1 paddock, I think you guys [media] as well.

“So, it was a tough call when I made it. I was thinking about coming back and I knew beforehand that I will be thinking about it. But in the end, nothing has changed. I’m still happy with my decision.”

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