Sebastian Vettel returned to the consciousness of F1 people on Sunday and he came back with a message. Of doom. At an event that celebrates everything good about motorsport! How cheery of him.
On an rare weekend of no F1 action the Goodwood Festival of Speed took centre stage on Sunday and Vettel was the star attraction, driving Nigel Mansell’s title-winning Williams and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren with sustainable fuels, and PlanetF1.com was there to see it all.
Yet in among the celebrations there was a serious side to Vettel’s return to the cockpit too. He leads our Sunday news round-up…
Sebastian Vettel warns F1 at risk of worldwide government bans
Vettel became a passionate climate campaigner in the closing years of his F1 career and the environment was a central theme of his appearance in front of the media at Goodwood.
Pointing to the extreme weather events that saw Saturday’s proceedings at Goodwood and F1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix cancelled – and the races in Miami and Montreal briefly come under threat – Vettel said motorsport must change or die.
The real threat? Not protestors invading the track – the subject that dominated the conversation ahead of last weekend’s British GP at Silverstone – but the possibility that governments around the world could ban motorsport as a measure to combat climate change.
He said: “You need to recognise that the world is changing and it does have an impact on our lives. And it’s not so much I think that the threat or risk that people that might glue themselves onto the track on a race race day or maybe at Goodwood.
“I think it’s more a threat that at some point governments will be looking at things that they can cut and ban and maybe motorsport is a threat and might be one of them. That’s how far I’m thinking.
“And I don’t want that to happen, to be clear, because I think it’s a great sport. You will see a lot of people turning up today, loving to be here, having a blast, so it will be a shame if we would lose that because we just simply can’t afford it anymore.
“When you look at something maybe as boring as a carbon budget and you just say: ‘OK, well, these sort of events fall off first.'”
Sebastian Vettel not closing door on F1 return
Yeah, yeah, Sebastian, we know the climate is important and all that – but what about the really important stuff? Are you coming back to F1 or not?
Almost from the moment he stepped out of the Aston Martin for the final time in Abu Dhabi last November, rumours have persisted that Vettel might be tempted to return either as a driver or in some other, more official capacity.
So PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper put the question directly to him at Goodwood, asking Vettel about a potential role within Formula 1 or governing body the FIA.
“We’ll see but I have some ideas. I’ve been to Monaco earlier this year. I had a very good meeting with Stefano [Domenicali, Formula 1 chief executive].
“Other than obviously the cars directly polluting, F1 has a huge responsibility because it’s a very big event.
“A lot of people attend – I think you had around 500,000 people in the British Grand Prix last weekend – so there’s a lot more to it than just the cars but obviously the cars, everybody sees them.
“It’s important that it’s headed in the right direction. But I’m talking [with F1] and I have some ideas. Obviously, we’ll see what the future brings.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
Sebastian Vettel has no regrets if climate concerns slowed him down
Who’s got room for one more Vettel story? The final part of our Seb Vet trilogy is a little bit more related to racing. Kind of.
The big problem with suggestions that Vettel may be tempted to return to F1 with, say, Audi in 2026 is that it was already clear long before he brought the curtain down on his glittering career in 2022 that he was no longer the driver he once was.
As his interest in all matters environmental expanded in his final years, Vettel was often described as “distracted” by pundits and the former Red Bull and Ferrari driver addressed the long-hanging question of whether his climate concerns really did hinder his on-track performance.
“Whether it impacted on my performance, I don’t know, it’s hard to tell,” he said.
“It’s always hard to measure in racing, but I would probably say no. If it did, then I wouldn’t regret it because I think there are obviously problems in this world that are far bigger than a certain lap time and a position on the day.
“Even though racing is my life and, on the day, there’s probably nothing more important to me but, to all of us and to our planet, I think they are of far bigger interest than whether I qualify a little bit higher up or a little bit lower.
“So I think putting things in perspective, what happens on the racetrack or what happens in Formula 1 is probably not important at all.”
Formula E star critical of Red Bull’s handling of Nyck de Vries
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and after being fired out of the Red Bull F1 system Nyck de Vries will likely return from whence he came: Formula E, to be precise.
De Vries was the reigning Champion of the all-electric series when he was signed as Pierre Gasly’s replacement at AlphaTauri for 2023, the Dutchman dropped after 10 races in which he scored zero points.
Lucas di Grassi, the former Virgin Racing F1 driver and a Formula E lifer having participated in every season since its inception in 2014, sees De Vries’ firing as more a reflection of Red Bull and their flawed decision-making processes than his former competitor.
According to Total Motorsport, he said: “When you fire a driver after 10 races, you make it clear that the decision-making process and the decision itself is wrong.
“The motorsport world relies a lot on instinct or on one lap instead of looking at the long term, the methodology of analysing the data and making the car faster should also help to choose the right driver.”
An fascinating insight into Max Verstappen’s outlook
We started with Red Bull’s past so it seems only right to finish with Red Bull’s present and, indeed, Red Bull’s future.
It is fashionable for drivers to claim that they do not care for statistics or breaking records, with both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen aligning with that outlook during their years of dominance.
Sebastian Vettel and his encyclopaedic knowledge of F1’s history and heritage, they are not. Or so they want us to think anyway.
How fascinating, then, to hear Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko reveal that Verstappen’s knowledge has far greater depth than he lets on.
“Max always says that he does not care about records,” Marko said according to Motorsport.com. “But if you ask him, for example, who has the most poles and how many those are, then he knows it right away.”
See? Always knew they cared…