Toto Wolff has ruled out the possibility of Sebastian Vettel making a sensational F1 comeback with Mercedes as the team prepare for life without Lewis Hamilton.
Despite signing a new two-year deal as recently as last summer, Hamilton announced on Thursday that he will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of the 2024 season.
Hamilton’s exit will mark the end of one of the great team-driver partnerships in F1 history, with the British driver winning six of his seven World Championships – and becoming the first man to surpass 100 race victories – in Mercedes colours after arriving from McLaren in 2013.
Toto Wolff plays down Sebastian Vettel comeback rumours
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Mercedes now face a big search to find Hamilton’s replacement with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz – the driver Hamilton will replace at Ferrari next year – among those linked to the vacant seat alongside George Russell.
Vettel, who won four consecutive titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, is another name to have been linked with Hamilton’s seat.
The German retired from F1 at the end of the 2022 campaign, but rumours have persisted that the 36-year-old could be tempted to return with the right opportunity.
Last September, Vettel’s friend and former Red Bull boss Helmut Marko teased that his career as a driver is “not over yet” and claimed the ex-Ferrari and Aston Martin star has been left without a specific purpose since he stepped away from F1.
Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher on Friday, however, Wolff has moved to play down speculation that Mercedes could move to bring Vettel back – but did reveal that the pair are in regular contact.
He said: “I think he made the decision to not race anymore. We are talking on a regular basis.
“We’ve also talked yesterday, but it wasn’t about driving for us in the future.”
Wolff’s comments come after Russell teased that Sainz is his preferred choice to succeed Hamilton at Mercedes in 2025.
In a social media post on Thursday, Russell uploaded an image of himself patting Sainz on the back at last year’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix along with the caption: “The crossovers we love to see.”
Sainz has been frequently linked with a move to Audi ahead of the German manufacturer’s F1 entry in 2026 in collaboration with the existing Sauber team.