On several occasions during the 2020 Formula 1 season, there has been talk of a return to Red Bull Racing for Sebastian Vettel to partner Max Verstappen ever since his contract was not renewed by Ferrari, who instead favoured Carlos Sainz Jr.
Indeed Vettel was spotted talking to Red Bull, including Dietrich Mateschitz (part-owner of Red Bull) in the Paddock (in fact he broke COVID-19 ‘bubble’ guidance to do so) back in July. The same can be said of Helmut Marko (Red Bull motorsport advisor) too.
Today, Germany’s F1 Insider and their main reporter Ralph Bach wrote an interesting piece describing a recent interview with Marko where the Austrian reveals the possibility that Vettel would’ve taken Albon’s seat had he been more patient.
During the summer, TJ13 reported on paddock rumour that Dieterich Matesich instructed Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Helmut Marko to ‘bring Sebastian home’ or words to that effect, and this interview corroborates that.
Indeed Vettel claims that he had spoken to Marko, revealing:
“Yes, I always get along well with them and very well with Helmut (Marko). I just asked him for advice.
“I have to be quite honest with myself and tell myself that maybe it’s over. Or that I have to leave for a year. Anything is possible for now.”
In the F1 Insider interview, Marko explains it was he who pushed Vettel to take time off and to make himself available in a year’s time, probably for a Red Bull drive.
“It was clear that Sebastian would have another difficult season with Ferrari. I didn’t want him to act rashly, but to wait.
“Because it was clear to me that fundamental things would change in the driver market for 2022. For example, I was sure that there would be a vacancy at Mercedes then. But not only there.”
Marko continues, saying:
“More in general, I advised Sebastian to take time off. But that also included Red Bull. I just wanted him to still be on the market at the right time so he could take the best possible offer.”
Does that also mean that Vettel left the silly season too quickly to have a chance at Alex Albon’s Red Bull cockpit?
“When Ferrari gave him notice, we had no place left for 2021. At the time, we firmly assumed that Alexander Albon would develop positively, so that he would also be able to drive alongside Max Verstappen in 2021.
“That’s what I told Sebastian. Unfortunately, we were wrong. When we had to act, Sebastian was no longer on the list because he had made a long-term commitment to Aston Martin.
“Therefore, Sergio Perez was the logical decision for us.” concludes Marko.
But then when you look at the deal’s in place, Perez is simply on a single year contract at Red Bull, and Vettel is on what has been described as a deal through 2021 “and beyond” – but that remains vague; implying that there is some get out clauses, most likely based on the performance of the team and Vettel himself.
So in reality, we could see the potential for Vettel to partner Verstappen at Red Bull in 2022, possibly. Marko professes to know best about Vettel’s move to Aston Martin.
“I hope he finds his old form again. He knows himself that the last two years were not his best.
“For whatever reason. But I don’t think he can be dangerous to us. In 2020 his new team was too far away from us for that.
“And that’s despite the fact that Perez was extremely strong, especially in the second half of the season. Even if Sebastian is in top form every race, as a driver he can’t make up for the gap the team had on us.
“But maybe I’m wrong.”