Bernie Ecclestone thinks that Sebastian Vettel should return to Red Bull, several years on from the title-winning partnership between the two parties.
Vettel earned his four consecutive World Championships with the Milton Keynes-based squad from 2010 to 2013. After struggling against new teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 - the first year of the hybrid era in the sport - Vettel left to join Ferrari in 2015.
This was where the German remained until the Scuderia opted to replace him with Carlos Sainz in 2021, prompting Vettel to switch to Aston Martin.
His debut season with the British outfit was one of mixed fortunes. Some early struggles were followed by a surprise podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June, where Vettel finished second behind race winner Sergio Perez.
Another podium followed at the eventful Hungarian Grand Prix in August, but Vettel was later disqualified after the FIA were unable to take enough of a fuel sample from his Aston Martin car at the end of the race.
He ended the season in 12th in the World Championship, whilst Aston Martin finished the year in P7 in the Constructors' standings.
"We don’t know how quick Vettel is anymore"
Whilst Vettel admits that he has already given thought to what his life after F1 might look like, Ecclestone thinks that the 34-year-old should decide for himself when he wants to leave the sport, rather than anybody else telling him when he should.
In fact, the former CEO of Formula 1 would like to see Vettel show his pace again by going back to Red Bull.
When asked by German media outlet Sport1.de when Vettel should quit, Ecclestone responded: "When he feels like it. He shouldn’t be told he's got to retire.
"We don't know how quick he is anymore because he's not in a competitive car, so it's not easy to say he's not as quick as he used to be.
"He needs to be back in Red Bull, actually."
Vettel will go into his second season with Aston Martin in 2022, whilst Red Bull also have an unchanged line-up in the form of World Champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Verstappen has stated his desire to remain with the team "forever", so there is unlikely to be a vacancy for the leading seat there for some time.
Perez, though, is on a one-year contract, meaning that the possibility remains of a spot becoming available in 2023.
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