Pundits weigh in on whether Sebastian Vettel thought ‘that could’ve been me’ after Bahrain

Michelle Foster
Sebastian Vettel waving. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, waves from Parc Ferme after Qualifying. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

With Aston Martin on the podium in the opening race of the new season, pundits are wondering whether Sebastian Vettel regrets his decision to retire last season.

Vettel called time on his Formula 1 career at the end of the 2022 season, the driver walking away from the grid and citing his desire to spend time with his young family.

Abu Dhabi, where he was P10, brought to an end two difficult seasons with Aston Martin in which Vettel scored just 80 points and bag one podium with his runner-up result at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

That was a long way off the lofty ambitions set out when he joined the team and proclaimed “I believe we can build something very special together”.

But with his replacement Fernando Alonso on the podium at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck says Vettel did just that.

“In his place, I’d be more happy for Aston Martin,” he told Eurosport, “because it’s his work, among other things, that they’re now up front.”

The 72-year-old also doesn’t believe Vettel will have any regrets after Bahrain as he made his choice and did so for his family.

“He has taken a new path in his life,” he added. “For a long time he was extremely successful. If he then decides to take care of his family and lead a different life, he has to do it consistently.”

Ralf Schumacher agrees with his compatriot about Vettel’s reasoning behind quitting, but that doesn’t take away from him maybe wishing he was the driver spraying the champagne on the podium at the Sakhir circuit.

“I think so,” he told Sky Deutschland when asked if Vettel would be feeling a little uneasy right now about his choice.

“On the other hand,” he added, “he’ll be happy to be home, not to have the stress. It wasn’t always that easy in a team either.

“But of course it is the wish of every driver to celebrate the start of the season like this.”

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Sky Sports presenter Simon Lazenby believes “if you’re Sebastian Vettel, you’re thinking ‘what on earth have I done? What on earth have I done?’

“He’ll be sitting there probably thinking to himself ‘that could’ve been me’.”

And if the 35-year-old is regretting his decision to quit, well that’s exactly what team boss Mike Krack hoped would happen.

Speaking last month, the German said of his compatriot: “It’s a shame he decided to quit. I hope he regrets it.”