Saturday, April 20, 2024

Sebastian Vettel: Four-time F1 world champion ‘speaking to’ Mercedes boss Toto Wolff amid thoughts of return to grid -Dlight News

Sebastian Vettel says he is thinking about making a return to Formula 1 amid ongoing discussions with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and the sport’s other team principals.

The four-time world champion retired in 2022 after 16 seasons in F1 but has since been regularly linked with a possible return to the grid.

Mercedes have a 2025 seat to fill following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari, while Red Bull, the team Vettel won his four drivers’ titles with, could also have a vacancy with Sergio Perez’s contract expiring.

“I’m talking to a lot of people because I know them, but not very specific,” Vettel told Sky News on Wednesday. “I mean obviously it does cross my mind, I do think about it but it’s not the main thought.

“I have three kids at home, it’s busy every day, so there’s a lot of other thoughts I have.

“I am speaking to Toto. I don’t know if that qualifies as Mercedes, but about other things.

“There’s ideas that I have, events that I’m planning going forwards, so I did speak to a lot of other team principals as well, and not only about racing.

“There’s thoughts, but nothing concrete at the minute.”

Vettel tempted by Le Mans opportunity

If he were to return to F1, Vettel would currently only be the third eldest driver on the grid, with the 39-year-old Hamilton and 42-year-old Fernando Alonso still performing at a high level.

Asked what he has missed since hanging up his helmet, Vettel added: “The thrill, the speed. I think the competition mostly, really.

“Driving quick is not the only thing, but it’s really the competition.”

Vettel recently tested the Porsche hypercar that will run in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June.

The German said there’s a possibility he could make his debut in the famous race.

“Maybe, I don’t know yet,” Vettel said.

“I’ve been testing. I was curious, so I wanted to see how it feels. It’s obviously a different discipline. It’s still racing, but it’s a different car, different discipline.

“Lots of things that excite me, lots of different things, not necessarily just looking at something behind the wheel but also outside the car.

“I am (tempted) and I’m not. I am obviously also looking for lots of other things and there’s lots of other things that do interest me outside of racing.”

‘Hamilton Ferrari switch surprising but exciting’

Having shared intense world championship battles earlier in their careers, Vettel and Hamilton had developed a strong relationship by the time the former retired.

With Hamilton set to follow in Vettel’s footsteps by driving at Ferrari, the German admitted he was “surprised” by the switch.

“I was surprised, like I guess most of us,” Vettel said.

“But exciting. Obviously, he’s looking for a new challenge and it will be different to see him in red, in a different colour.”

The final two of Vettel’s six seasons with Ferrari saw him drive alongside Charles Leclerc, who remains with the Italian team and will be Hamilton’s team-mate next year.

Vettel is confident the pair will get along, but warns Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur will face a challenge in managing their competitiveness.

“Charles is good, Charles is easy,” Vettel said. “He’s very quick, very competitive but so is Lewis.

“So it’s more difficult I guess for the team to manage.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Japanese GP schedule

Thursday April 4
4.30am: Drivers’ press conference

Friday April 5
3am: Japanese GP Practice One (session starts at 3.30am)*
6.45am: Japanese GP Practice Two (session starts at 7am)*

8.15am: The F1 Show*
10am: Japanese GP Practice One replay
11.30am: Japanese GP Practice Two replay

Saturday April 6
3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (session starts at 3.30am)*
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
9am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese GP Qualifying replay

Sunday April 7
5am: Grand Prix Sunday Japanese GP build-up*
6am: The JAPANESE GRAND PRIX*
8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
9am: Ted’s Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese Grand Prix highlights*
10.30am: Japanese Grand Prix replay

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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