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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel F1 return bid dismissed as champion 'no longer burns brightly'

Sebastian Vettel is potentially eyeing a return to F1, but one champion would not sign him.

Vettel Zandvoort
To news overview © Aston Martin

Damon Hill would not sign Sebastian Vettel if he was currently a team principal in F1, believing the four-time title winner's best days are now behind him.

Although Vettel retired at the end of the 22 to spend more time with his family, a potential return has been mooted for the 36-year-old following a recent media tour to promote an energy drink in which he has invested.

Vettel has confirmed holding talks with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, although he insists not to specifically discuss the seat due to be vacated at the end of the year by Lewis Hamilton.

The German, though, is far from outright dismissing the possibility he will be on the grid as early as next season, with a drive with Audi also mooted when the manufacturing giant makes its F1 debut in 2026.

Although Hamilton has made clear he would love to see Vettel back in F1, 1996 champion Hill does not share the sentiment about a driver who dominated the sport during his time with Red Bull from 2010-2013.

"He did burn very brightly for a very intense period and then something happened," said Hill, speaking on The F1 Show. "It petered out and it bumped along.

"I never really saw that form [later on] of the youthful Vettel that was dominant. He was great at the beginning of his career, and then when it got difficult at Ferrari, and stuff like that, it just sort of became like a labour.

"So would you, as a team boss, take a chance on him rediscovering his form? I wouldn't, frankly."

Phone calls needed to find out more

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Vettel again played his cards close to his chest when asked about the possibility of a return.

Asked if he was potentially on the market, Vettel replied: "Potentially I am because I haven't got a drive. The question is 'Am I looking for one?'

"It depends on the package. I retired from Formula 1, not to come back, but I also did say 'You never know', so I think it still stands.

"There are things which I miss, which is mostly the competition, and things which I don't miss. That hasn't changed.

"Obviously, life is very different if you're not involved, and I do enjoy that. I'm still trying lots of different things.

"Now we're talking about a sports drink. I didn't think years ago this would be something I'd be talking about in the future, or be involved in.

"You never know where life takes you. Maybe it takes me back behind the wheel, maybe it doesn't."

The lure of Mercedes, however, like Michael Schumacher before him being a German driver with the German manufacturer, is clearly appealing.

Would he turn down Mercedes if offered the chance? Vettel said: "I had conversations with him [Wolff] , not really about the seat. We did speak about the whole situation, in short, as well.

"But I did speak to others as well. I'm still keeping in touch every now and then. I have some projects and ideas, together with F1, and we will see if they turn out or not, so I am staying in touch.

"I don't know. It has to be a couple more phone calls and conversations I guess to really find out a little bit more.

"For sure, it's one of the best seats on the grid. I think performance-wise, Mercedes has a great track record - struggling a little bit in the last years, but then struggle is still second or third in the constructors'. It's not like you are racing in no man's land."

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