Sebastian Vettel retired from F1 at the end of the 2022 season; the four-time world champion says he remains fit enough to race and cannot rule out a return; watch the full interview and all sessions from the Singapore GP live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday through to Sunday
Last Updated: 13/09/23 3:01pm
Sebastian Vettel says he “can’t exclude” the possibility of coming out of retirement to return to the Formula 1 grid.
The four-time world champion chose to exit the sport at the end of the 2022 season but has since been touted for a comeback.
Having only turned 36 in July, Vettel is almost a full six years younger than the oldest driver on the current grid, Fernando Alonso.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports F1, Vettel was asked by Martin Brundle whether he would follow in the footsteps of fellow world champions Nigel Mansell, Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen by returning after a hiatus.
“I can’t say no, because that you don’t know,” Vettel said.
“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.”
Vettel spent his last two seasons in F1 driving for an Aston Martin team that appeared to be mired in the midfield, but his replacement Alonso has taken advantage of a vastly improved 2023 car to seal seven podiums in the opening 14 races.
There is little doubt that the team’s lack of competitiveness during his time with them played a part in Vettel’s decision to step away from the sport, and he admits only the right “challenge” could tempt him into a comeback.
“It probably will depend much on when, and obviously it’s not endless, because 36 is not like, ‘yeah in 10 years’ time’.
“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.”
Vettel was linked with a temporary return to the grid when his former team-mate Lance Stroll suffered a wrist injury just weeks before the start of the season, but the Aston Martin driver ultimately made a remarkable return in time for the first race.
The German admits he has maintained his fitness to the point that the only major obstacle to an instant return for him would be rebuilding the neck strength required to withstand the extreme G-forces F1 drivers face.
However, he insists that maintaining his fitness is a lifestyle choice rather than aimed at preparing for a return to the grid.
Asked if he is race-ready, Vettel said: “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.
“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.”
Vettel was speaking to Sky Sports as he linked up with Red Bull to drive his 2011 championship-winning car at the Nurburgring.
The car was run on sustainable fuels as Vettel and Red Bull promoted the German’s Race Without Trace campaign, which is aimed at increasing sustainability in motorsports.
Watch Sebastian Vettel’s full interview with Martin Brundle during Sky Sports F1’s live coverage from the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend. All sessions are live from Friday through to Sunday.
Sky Sports F1’s live Singapore GP schedule
Friday, September 15
10am: Singapore GP Practice One (session starts at 10.30pm)
1.45pm: Singapore GP Practice Two (session starts at 2pm)
3.30pm: The F1 Show
Saturday, September 16
10.15am: Singapore GP Practice Three (session starts at 10.30am)
1pm: Singapore GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Singapore GP Qualifying
3.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday, September 17
11.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Singapore GP build-up
1pm: THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
3pm: Chequered Flag: Singapore GP reaction
4pm: Ted’s Notebook