Sebastian Vettel says a Red Bull return was ‘never really close’

Michelle Foster
Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner talk. Barcelona, February 2022.

Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner in conversation at unofficial testing. Barcelona February 2022.

Leaving Ferrari after the 2020 season, Sebastian Vettel had a few conversations with Christian Horner about rejoining Red Bull but admits it was “never really close”.

Vettel learned even before the first grand prix in a Covid-hit 2020 season that it would be his last with Ferrari, the Scuderia opting not to renew his contract.

Examining his options, the four-time former World Champion had a few talks with Red Bull team boss Horner but at the time they had Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s team-mate, and Vettel signed with Aston Martin.

We had a few exploratory talks,” Horner confirmed last month. “But it would be a bit like going back to an old girlfriend – it would probably never be quite the same second time around.”

Vettel was asked about those talks at the Italian Grand Prix, questioned as to whether it was ever considered seriously at the time.

“I think it was 2020,” the German recalled. “But obviously I made the decision to join Aston Martin before I think it was really in discussion that Alex was going to leave. So it was never really close.

“But of course I know Christian, I know Helmut. So for sure I had a sort of brief chat with them, but never really anything serious.

“And I also know and knew that if it was, would have been, an option or serious, we would have at least talked about it. But it never came to that point.

“So obviously a couple of months later, you could look back and say if and what if and so on. But I’m happy with the choice I made.”

That choice, though, has ultimately led to the German’s retirement, Vettel’s father saying a bad race in Austria hastened that decision.

Vettel, though, says he has no regrets.

“Obviously expected we would be more competitive last year and this year, but we were not,” he said. “And I’m very happy with the way the team has progressed and [how] we are working together.

“So obviously it’s not the dream sort of coming true, racing in the positions we are racing, but it’s been a challenge and I think I’ve accepted it and tried to make the most of it.”

With retirement just seven races away, Vettel has yet to set out any plans for next season other than to spend time with his family.

Asked if he would consider a non-driving role at Red Bull, the team with whom he won his four World titles, he said: “I don’t know at the moment, I’m not considering anything because I’m stepping away.

“So time will tell what will be something that’s possible to do, if there’s an offer of any such nature or not, and then I’ll see how I feel like at that moment.

“I’m quite happy to spend more time on other things and look forward to seeing the kids more and stuff like that. And then time will tell whether I get bored within three months or three years. I don’t know. So we will see.”