Why a return of Sebastian Vettel to F1 would seem like a bad idea

Even if a return seems quite improbable for the moment, Sebastian Vettel is reportedly considering more or less seriously the possibility of returning to the wheel of F1. Not sure if it's the idea of ​​the century though...

Published on 15/04/2024 à 15:34

Jeremy Satis

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Why a return of Sebastian Vettel to F1 would seem like a bad idea

Sebastian Vettel, back in F1? © Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Although he left the stage with conviction in Abu Dhabi, at the end of the 2022 season, Sebastian Vettel never made a commitment that he would not one day return to this championship that he loves so much and which he has won four times. At the time, during the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix, the announcement of his retirement made sense: the German was no longer playing in a top-tier team, and his motivation had seemed diminished, which was not surprising. very surprising when we know that he is among the earliest pilots in the history of the F1.

The man who ended up becoming the champion of environmental issues was quite discreet during his first months of retirement, only showing up in the paddock at Suzuka last year, on his favorite circuit in Japan. , in order to raise awareness among the paddock and particularly among his former friends about the cause of bees, by installing hives between turns 1 and 2. Since then, there hasn't been much else, but in F1 more than elsewhere, it never takes more than a short sentence to set things on fire.

Sebastian Vettel, deep in thought

Lewis Hamilton who goes to Ferrari… a seat that becomes available within a German team… no more big names on the market… Sebastian Vettel did not take long before being announced among the candidates for the seat Mercedes available alongside George Russell. It must be said that the German himself maintained the vagueness by ensuring that the idea of ​​a return “crossed the mind”, and that he had discussed with Toto wolff and other stable bosses.

Sebastian Vettel, back in F1? © Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Sebastian Vettel, back in F1? © Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

The Austrian team main fueled the game by ensuring that it was impossible to rule out Vettel, given his achievements in F1. Certainly, the four-time world champion is not close to a comeback, but the fact that he is thinking about it, and that he has notably tried the Porsche Hypercar in recent weeks, proves that the 36-year-old father is deep in thought about the future of his career. And to his life.

Would a return to F1 be a good thing? Everyone will have their opinion. An endearing character with acute environmental awareness, the German would obviously delight fans by making his return, especially the most nostalgic among them. But leaving aside the sentimental value, should we really be happy about it? With all the affection we have for Vettel, his return would bring the number of thirty-year-olds on the grid to 7 in 2025 (without even counting the two forty-year-olds who are Alonso and Hamilton!), almost half of the grid (7 out of 9 of which would be at least 35 years old!). F1 doesn't need that.

Let’s reoxygenate the grid…!

An aging of the grid resulting in an obvious lack of opportunities for young drivers of Formula 2 which grow behind. The latest example? Daniel Ricciardo, no longer really efficient since the end of his years Renault, for example, occupies a seat that Liam Lawson would have deserved to have at Racing Bulls. Theo Pourchaire, F2 champion at only 20 years old, will probably never have his chance in the premier category, like his predecessor Felipe Drugovich. If the 96-97 generation has established itself in F1 by taking advantage of the running out of steam of certain drivers, it is time to re-oxygenate a grid which has not evolved between the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024 and to let the young generation make their mark .

Beyond even this blatant youthism, there would also be a significant risk for Sebastian Vettel himself. The German is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the discipline, thanks in particular to his four world championship titles won with Red Bull, and putting his reputation on the line would carry some definite risks. Anyone who was a fan of the Red Baron during his childhood would indeed have much more to lose than to gain by attempting a return to F1. Outclassed by Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 Milton Keynes while he was the four-time defending champion, the German has not impressed since then, not leaving an indelible mark at Ferrari either afterwards.

Vettel and Leclerc

Vettel and Leclerc had a great battle in 2019. © DPPI

Unable to win the title in 2018 with the Scuderia despite a leading position in the championship mid-season, Sebastian Vettel then suffered from the arrival of Charles Leclerc by his side the following year. The young Monegasque scored 7 pole positions to 2 and 2 victories to 1 in the duel between them that year, giving rise to the first impressions of decline surrounding the famous No. 5. Because if the Ferrari of 2020 was one of the worst in the history of Maranello, Leclerc still kept control.

Vettel should seek a position of responsibility

His departure from Aston Martin at the same time in 2021 formalized the idea of ​​a certain downgrading, despite the great ambitions of Lawrence Stroll. And the results shown in green confirmed the trend, especially when analyzing the comparison against Lance stroll (only 43 to 34 in 2021, 37 to 18 in 2022). We obviously didn't expect Vettel to score podiums in spades like Fernando Alonso did last year, the car being less competitive in his time, but the performance comparison with Stroll shows that Sebastian, in his later years, was not at the level Alonso is currently playing at.

With his overall vision, his indisputable intelligence, his sense of racing and his natural charisma, Sebastian Vettel would undoubtedly make an excellent team boss. When he acknowledged discussions with Toto Wolff in recent days, he explained that it was not necessarily a question of the quest for a steering wheel at all costs. The Austrian, who has just lost Jérôme d'Ambrosio after letting James Vowles go to Williams, would have a good idea if he wanted to make Seb Vettel his new right-hand man and possible successor in the long term. In this specific case, however, F1 would really come out a winner…

ALSO READ > Wolff does not exclude the Vettel hypothesis in 2025: “We can never rule it out”

Jeremy Satis

Great F1 reporter & passionate about promotional formulas

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