Sebastian Vettel has addressed questions about three Formula 1 teams he has been linked with for the 2021 season, and how seriously he would consider not racing next year.
The Ferrari driver faced a series of questions about his future ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix weekend, stressing that he would take his time with the “next couple of weeks and months” key to his decision.
The announcement earlier this week that Fernando Alonso has taken the Renault drive has closed off one possible destination for Vettel, but with seats still open the 33-year-old could still find a drive – although he does not want to race in F1 simply to make up the numbers.
“We’ve all seen that Fernando is coming back, which I think is good for F1, so we’ll see how he gets on but independent from that I will take the time that I need to take a decision for myself,” said Vettel.
“Everything is an option at the moment – carry on, have a break or retire.
“It’s not a secret that I’m competitive. I have achieved so much in this sport and I’m interested in achieving more, not in just taking part.”
As well as answering the general question on his future, Vettel was asked about three specific teams that he has been linked with.
RED BULL ‘WOULD BE INTERESTING’
Red Bull has already distanced itself from any possibility of bringing Vettel back, but his four world championships there from 2010-2013 means he has regularly been linked to the team.
But while a move to take the seat currently occupied by Alex Albon is extremely unlikely, Vettel indicated he would take up an offer should it come.
“It’s a winning car and I’m here to compete, I’m here to win,” said Vettel when asked if he would take a Red Bull drive if offered.
“So probably the answer would be yes.”
He was also asked about whether lining up alongside Max Verstappen would pose a problem.
Vettel suggested this would not be the case, while also clarifying that his appearance on Red Bull’s Servus TV earlier this week should not be taken as indicating he is renewing links with the company.
“Generally, I’m of the conviction that if you want to win you have to be happy to take on anyone, so I don’t think that is a question of your potential team-mate no matter where you will find yourself,” said Vettel.
“I obviously know the team very, very well from my past. I’m still in contact with a lot of the people there, whether it’s Christian [Horner], Helmut [Marko] or others.
“The appearance in Servus TV had nothing to do with that or a potential future.
“But Red Bull has a winning car, I believe, so they’re a very strong team.
“I know how strong they are from the past. Obviously, a part of the team is not the same anymore and the team has evolved, so it’s not fair to say I know the team inside out because it also has changed and moved on.
“But I know why they were strong back then and they are still a contender and, it’s a car that you can win races in. So for sure that would be interesting.”
RACING POINT LEFT ‘STRONG IMPRESSION’
Racing Point’s lofty ambitions as it transforms into the Aston Martin works team next season mean Vettel has been linked to a possible move there.
While the team has Sergio Perez under contract and has confirmed its “long-term” deal covers 2021, its public messaging does appear to leave room for manoeuvre on Lance Stroll.
Vettel spoke positively about Racing Point, but did not directly say whether he saw it as an option for him next year.
“Racing Point left a very strong impression and, certainly [is] in a good place for this year,” said Vettel when asked if he sees Racing Point as a possible destination.
“I know part of the team, I know some members of the team quite well from my past and for a long time.
“It’s a good opportunity for them this year to have a good car to fight with and try and improve that from there.”
RENAULT TALKS WERE NOT ‘REAL’
Alonso’s Renault deal took another possibility off the table for Vettel, although he said this deal did not change his situation.
Vettel confirmed he had talked with Renault personnel about the possibility of a move, but stressed these were informal talks and never progressed beyond that.
“I’ve been such a long time in the paddock that I know quite a couple of people so, yes, I did [talk to Renault], but at no point concrete enough or fundamental talks or real talks,” said Vettel.
“As you’ve seen as well, they’ve gone off in a different direction.
“It doesn’t change much for me. It really depends on my decision, which I’m not pressured to take in the next couple of days.
“I want to take the time that I need to decide.”