Sebastian Vettel offers F1 return update after ‘wish to be in competitive car on the grid’ claim

Jamie Woodhouse
Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 paddock at Imola.

Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel admitted at Imola that being there had him longing to be on the Formula 1 grid in a “competitive car”, but reeled in the comeback hopes.

Vettel retired from F1 at the end of 2022 as a four-time World Champion, though was back behind the wheel at Imola for a special tribute to Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger on the 30th anniversary of their tragic deaths at the circuit, Vettel driving the McLaren MP4/8 which Senna drove to his 41st and final victory.

Sebastian Vettel opens up on F1 grid ‘wish’ but at peace with retirement

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Aston Martin, Vettel’s final Formula 1 team, were finishing P7 in the Constructors’ Championship at the point where Vettel decided to bid F1 farewell, but speaking to Channel 4 on race day at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Vettel briefly added fuel to the fire of comeback speculation after claiming being back in this environment had him wishing he was on that grid in a strong car.

Asked how he is getting on, Vettel replied: “I’m good. I’m enjoying my time, especially with the kids.

“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.”

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Vettel would expand on that way of thinking when speaking to media including’s Thomas Maher, confirming that he is content looking to take on “new challenges” in life.

“It’s been wonderful today to be on track and be cheered on, but obviously a tiny bit of it is maybe myself, but obviously that was really for Ayrton and Roland,” said Vettel.

“I think I was very privileged having had the career, the life that I had and the support, but I don’t wake up in the mornings missing those moments on the podium when people shout your name. I think I’m quite realistic about life and trying and taking on new challenges.”

That does not mean that Vettel never considered an F1 comeback, the 53-time grand prix winner confirming that he has, but at no point has the urge to return outweighed the reasons for his retirement, as Vettel also pointed to the “very intense” schedule of modern Formula 1.

A record 24 rounds are set to make up the F1 2024 campaign.

“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.”

Vettel’s former team Aston Martin suffered something of a nightmare weekend at Imola, claiming only two points courtesy of Lance Stroll after their heavily-upgraded AMR24 underwhelmed.

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