Four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel was amongst the names mentioned as we asked F1 fans at Autosport International who should be Max Verstappen’s team-mate in 2025.
Vettel brought the curtain down on his glittering career at the end of the 2022 season after spells with Ferrari and Aston Martin, having won four consecutive titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.
Meanwhile, Verstappen’s current team-mate Sergio Perez came under huge pressure during an inconsistent 2023 campaign in which he scored less than half the points total amassed by Verstappen, who finished the season with a record 19 wins from 22 races.
Sebastian Vettel to make F1 return with Red Bull?
With Perez’s contract set to expire at the end of 2024, Red Bull could soon be on the lookout for a new team-mate for Verstappen with the likes of McLaren star Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo thought to be among the leading candidates.
Yet speaking to On Track GP, the YouTube platform launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports last year, one fan at the Autosport International event in Birmingham backed Vettel to make a sensational F1 comeback.
He said: “I reckon you’d have to bring back one of the GOATs, wouldn’t you?
“It’d be nice to see Vettel back on the grid. I know he’s not done [with F1] yet, it’d be nice to see someone like that come back into it.
“Maybe Norris is looking for an upgrade as well but, saying that, [McLaren] have got the car for it, haven’t they? They’re coming back now.”
Norris and Ricciardo were the most popular names on the lips of fans, with one predicting Red Bull could move to drop Perez during the 2024 season if his woes continue.
She said: “I’m thinking Daniel Ricciardo. He’s a massive part of the team, he brings massive PR and media [attention] to the team, I think he’d be a great addition.
“I know they’ve been looking at Lando Norris as well, but I don’t think Lando Norris will move from McLaren really.
“So I’m thinking if they are going to replace Perez – especially at the end of this year or maybe a mid-season swap, depending on Perez’s performances – I think Daniel Ricciardo will be brought in.”
Asked if the prospect of dropping Perez during the season could really be an option to Red Bull, she replied: “Definitely.
“His performances in 2023 really weren’t up to standard and, especially towards the end of the season, you saw [Christian] Horner and [Helmut] Marko giving interviews about him [and saying]: ‘We don’t think he’s doing as well as he could be doing.’
“I think 2024 is really his last chance, so if he doesn’t bring in the performance for the team he’s going to get swapped out.”
Another F1 enthusiast speculated that Ricciardo has been lined up to replace Perez since he returned to a race seat with junior team AlphaTauri last summer, having spent the first 10 races of 2023 as Red Bull’s reserve driver.
And the same fan predicted that Perez could even be dropped before the summer break if he proves unable to recapture race-winning form.
He remarked: “I would say Ricciardo. I definitely would say Ricciardo is next in line regardless.
“I think they got Ricciardo in purely for that reason. I can’t see anyone else replacing [Perez] because I don’t think Yuki [Tsunoda] is really ready for it yet.
“I think [a mid-season swap is possible]. I think it’ll be down to Helmut mostly.
“If Sergio doesn’t perform, doesn’t get any wins or podiums, I think he’ll be out by around Hungary or Spa.”
On Track GP is a YouTube channel launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports. You can watch the full episode below.