Sebastian Vettel has spoken of his “huge admiration” for rally drivers and whether or not he would be ready to step into their world in the future, if the competitive “itch” comes back to him.
The four-time Formula 1 World Champion is gearing up for his first racing appearance since retiring from the sport at the end of last year, teaming up with now-Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher for Germany at this year’s Race of Champions.
The 2023 edition of the ever-popular racing event takes place on snow and ice in Sweden, with plenty of ex-F1 talent involved as well as current Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas.
Multiple rallying legends are also among the field as the teams from all around the world get ready for the Nations Cup and the Champion of Champions events this weekend, and the track has naturally seen the former Ferrari, Red Bull and Aston Martin driver asked about whether he would make a foray into rallying in future.
He has previously said “we’ll see” to the prospect, but he was asked about it further before his first post-Formula 1 outing takes place.
“I have a huge admiration for rally drivers, I think it’s an incredible skill,” Vettel told reporters at a press conference ahead of the Race of Champions.
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“This is a tiny glimpse of what it might feel like to do a rally, but it feels like I arrive with a screwdriver and a hammer – two tools – whereas they arrive with the whole toolbox. Whatever might happen, they have the right-fitting tool.
“It’s a great sport. There’s the racing element and the skill, but it’s different in many ways. I think the drivers are great and I don’t think they get the limelight they deserve. Rally is popular in the Nordic countries but deserves to be very popular around the world because the skill is incredible.
“The discipline as well – it’s very different as a sport. So, I don’t know. I think it would be a lot of work, but maybe something that, after a while, if it starts to itch… It would be very different, a huge challenge.
“I always follow it closely. Not the sector split, but the rallies and the stages. There have been a lot of young kids coming up.
“I remember the days when Petter [Solberg, who is racing alongside son Oliver for Team Norway at the ROC this weekend] was winning and competing. It’s not like I grew up with rallying, but I’ve always admired that people are so fast without kerbs and track limits.”
Vettel retired with 53 Formula 1 race wins to his name from 299 starts, and has previously opened up about the possibility of going to university in retirement, as well as wanting to spend more time with his family as he no longer needs to travel the world quite so regularly.