Sebastian Vettel waved an emotional goodbye to the F1 paddock a little over a month ago – but is already being tipped to return to the sport in a senior management position. And the legendary German driver has even held preliminary talks with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko over a future return to the team where he claimed four world titles.
Vettel became one of the most respected drivers on the grid during a storied 15-year F1 career and was given a fitting tribute as he drove his final race for Aston Martin at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
The 35-year-old is yet to divulge his future career path, and has stepped away from the demanding F1 circuit to spend more time with his young family. But having sealed 39 of his 53 race wins at Red Bull in a stunning period of dominance, there are undeniable deep rooted connections with the Austrian team.
And according to Sky F1 in Germany, Marko has already discussed a future ‘top management role’ with the perceptive and informed Vettel.
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“It is not impossible that he will come back for a top management position,” Marko said. “We had a conversation, and if he could get a top management position, that would appeal to him.
“That became clear during the conversation. He would certainly have the potential and personality for it. But for now, we’ll let him plant a few trees.”
As Marko notes, an imminent return to F1 in any form appears unlikely for Vettel as he takes a break from the intensity and pressures that the sport brings. Vettel used his platform on the grid to raise awareness about causes important to him, such as sustainability, climate protection and human rights.
And he could spend more time as an activist in his retirement, but has also been earmarked by old boss Horner as a future driver manager, rather like Marko, who helped him cement his legacy as an icon of the sport. Horner and Marko enjoyed a golden period for Red Bull with Vettel between 2010 and 2013, and the team principal believes his former driver could have similar success in the manager role.
“He’s a great people person,” Horner said about Vettel in Abu Dhabi last month. “He understands the value of people and the contribution they make to success.
“And I think he’s turned into somewhat of a driver counsellor the last couple of years as well. So it really depends what he wishes to apply himself to. He’s one of those guys that’s annoyingly good at anything he chooses to do. So I’m sure if he chose that path, he would be very good at it.”