Sebastian Vettel open to F1 return…but only to race at Suzuka

Jon Wilde
Sebastian Vettel smiling at press conference. Suzuka October 2022.

Sebastian Vettel would be open to the prospect of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix not being his competitive farewell to Suzuka.

The four-time former World Champion has only five more races of his Formula 1 career remaining as things stand, having announced his decision to retire at the end of this season.

What his future holds remains unclear, for Vettel initially wants to experience the feeling of being an ex-F1 driver and full-time family man before deciding his next move – he has been racing since the age of eight when he began in karts.

But if there was to be even a one-off appearance in the coming years, perhaps as a stand-in for a rival unavailable that weekend, the 35-year-old German would choose the popular Suzuka circuit as his preferred venue.

Asked if he would consider a Suzuka return in a different category, Vettel said during the Japanese Grand Prix press conference: “I don’t know. Never say never. It’s a great track for many reasons and who knows what the future brings.

“Obviously I love driving and I think around this track I always felt very alive and the passion felt, or feels, very alive.

“So yeah, we will see what type of car maybe in the future will come up.”

Vettel, who won the Japanese Grand Prix four times in five years for Red Bull between 2009 and 2013, then made reference to Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi with whom he was sharing that part of the press conference.

“Maybe if one of these guys in the future races here feels a bit sick,” Vettel continued. “I don’t wish them to feel so, but I wouldn’t mind jumping back in for a race at Suzuka at any time.

“But obviously we will see what the future brings. At the moment I have no plans, but I think there are some exciting races happening in Japan and we’ll see.”

Asked if he was serious about that, the Aston Martin driver added: “One-race career in the future!

“Yeah, if anybody is happy to sign up a driver for a single race. I’m sure those guys wouldn’t be happy to step aside, but that would be something I’d seriously consider.”

The only commitment Vettel has made beyond the end of this season in regard to racing is an appearance at the 2023 Race of Champions. He has won the Nations’ Cup seven times in that event and the individual title once, in 2015, finishing runner-up to Sebastien Loeb on the Swedish ice this year.

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