Sebastian Vettel has acknowledged that he cannot rule out the possibility of ending his retirement and making a return to Formula 1.
The four-time world champion and former Aston Martin charger opted to step away from the sport at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
However, speculation regarding a potential comeback has persisted, especially as Vettel, who celebrated his 36th birthday in July, remains notably younger than the oldest driver on the current grid, Fernando Alonso.
During an exclusive interview with Sky Sports F1, Martin Brundle asked Vettel if he might consider following in the footsteps of other former F1 world champions, such as Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen, who returned to the sport after a pause from F1.
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“I can’t say no, because that you don’t know,” Vettel said, a comment that certainly fuel more speculation.
“I think it’s something that if you asked all of them, probably some of them would have said ‘no’. And some of them I don’t know, but in the end all of them came back, so I can’t exclude it.”
After a lacklustre campaign in 2022 that likely convinced Vettel to leave the grid, Aston Martin is enjoying a strong season.
Vettel is happy for his former outfit and for Alonso, but the 53-time Grand Prix winner says he would only consider an offer to race again in F1 if it was the “right” challenge.
But for now, the thought of returning to active duty isn’t at the forefront of Vettel’s mind.
“It probably will depend much on when, and obviously it’s not endless, because 36 is not like, ‘yeah in 10 years’ time’,” Vettel said.
“Maybe I think about it then time has passed but it will depend on the challenge, whatever, but it’s not in my head right now.
“And I’m enjoying the sort of outlook of the challenge of what to do next. It will be the way I see it, the biggest challenge for any racing driver and the biggest challenge for any sportsman, sportswoman, what do you do after?
“Because naturally you will be like 30-35, 40-45 – depending on your sport and discipline. And then what?
“There’s a lot of life left and life can be great even though you’re not racing, you know, the absolute limit in the fastest car in the world, but you can still do lots of great things that give you great pleasure.”
Regardless of what the future may hold, Vettel insists he would be ready to spring into action as he has maintained his physical fitness during the past year, but as a lifestyle choice, not as a racing prerequisite.
“Yeah, but because I want to, not because I’m like, come back or if somebody falls out I’m going to (step in), not because of that,” he said.
“But so I guess my neck is not up to speed. No, it can’t be, but everything else is pretty, pretty good, I would say.”
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