Last season McLaren finished best of the rest in the championship, but the Woking team was by no means on the same level as F1’s top three teams.
While Vettel claimed nine podium finishes, including a victory, McLaren managed just one top three result the entire season.
It begs the question whether Vettel would be open to taking a step back.
He doesn’t know.
“I don’t know, I can’t give you an answer to this question,” he told Motorsport.com. “I don’t really know.
“When I was in the middle of the grid, I was at the beginning of my career in Formula 1, with Toro Rosso and shortly thereafter at Red Bull, even though we quickly got to the front.
“In Toro Rosso the first year we fought for the seventeenth or fifteenth position, I had Vitantonio Liuzzi as a team-mate and we were not competitive enough.
“The following year (2008) was incredible: we were able to fight for the twelfth place, then for the tenth, then at the end of the season we were constantly in the top 10.”
He did, however, concede that it would depend on the perspective.
And as a driver who has spent the most 10 years racing inside the top five, Vettel says it would be difficult to find joy fighting for positions further back in the field.
But, then again, his former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen is doing just that for nothing more, or less, than his passion for racing.
He added: “Yes, it depends on the situation: when you start fighting for the top 10, finding yourself in the top five is exciting, but when you pass the last 10 years in the top five and then you find yourself fifteenth, the feeling cannot be the same.
“It goes without saying that if you find yourself fifteenth after having spent a life in eighteenth place, you seem to have reached the most beautiful thing in the world. I don’t think you can pretend nothing about your past, if you won a lot I think you want to win again.
“Look at Kimi, for example: he certainly can’t fight for victory now. I think he would like to do it, if he could choose to do it. But in the end, if you are driven by passion, you find satisfaction and you can also have fun driving and racing alone.”
For now Vettel’s goal is to win grands prix with Ferrari and fight for this year’s World title.
“My goal is always the same, because we haven’t achieved it yet,” he said.
“Mercedes has beaten us in recent years, so the mission always remains the same.
“We have raced many races, I think there have been great moments as well as less good days, but as I said the goal remains the same, it’s still there, my goal is to win with Ferrari.”
There is one bit of good news for McLaren if they do decide to chase Vettel, he’s not in it for the money.
“You know, it depends on what is really important to you, what guides you in making decisions,” he said when the salary question came up. “I don’t want to point the finger at anyone, mind you: if money motivates you, then fight for that, there are many men of sports and business driven by earnings.
“I think the real question to ask is: when does the money get enough?”
He added: “Here we are in a ‘circus’ that is a bit lost, a lot of money is circulating and money tends to ruin people. And let’s go back to what I said a little while ago: you have to see where you have your limit.
“At some point, money stops being the most important thing, but there is always the desire to enjoy what you are doing.
“Ours is a job that few can do, and I believe that all of us in helmets and overalls should always show that we appreciate it, are happy to do it, to enjoy a time that a little while ago we said was not infinite. This is the key for me.”