Sebastian Vettel says that he would be willing to return to Red Bull Racing if it was to offer him a drive next year.
Red Bull, with which the German won his four Formula 1 titles from 2010 to 2013, has one seat as yet unspoken for, at least in theory, in 2021.
Vettel, on the other hand, has a diminishing number of options if he is to stay in the championship when he departs Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the year, following the announcement that Fernando Alonso will return to the Renault F1 Team.
If he was to go back to Milton Keynes, the 33-year-old would be team-mate to Red Bull’s clear number one driver in Max Verstappen, whose next contract runs until the end of 2023.
While the firm’s motorsport adviser Dr Helmut Marko had suggested there was little chance of pairing Vettel with Verstappen, speculation arose again when the world champion appeared alongside the Dutchman recently on the Red Bull-owned Servus TV channel.
Vettel downplayed the significance of that appearance, but did express enthusiasm for the idea of racing for Red Bull again, alongside Verstappen.
“Generally, I’m of the conviction that if you want to win you have to be happy to take on anyone, so I don’t think it is question of your potential team-mate no matter where you will find yourself,” he said.
“I obviously know the team very, very well from my past — of course I’m still in contact with a lot of people there, whether it is Christian (Horner, Team Principal), Helmut (Marko) or others.
“The appearance on Servus TV had nothing to do with that or potential future but Red Bull has a winning car, I believe. I know how strong they are from the past.
“I know they have evolved; it is not fair to say I know the team inside out because it also has changed and moved on, but I know why they were strong back then and they are still I think a contender.
“It’s a car you can win races in, so for sure that would be interesting.”
When pressed on if he would take a drive if offered, Vettel responded, “It’s a winning car and I’m here to compete, I’m here to win, so probably the answer would be yes.”
The 53-time grand prix winner admitted he did have talks with Renault before it signed Alonso, but said his options were open.
“I haven’t at this stage made a decision (on my future) yet,” said Vettel.
“I’m not taking any pressure. Obviously we’ve all seen Fernando coming back — good for F1, we’ll see how he gets on. But, independent of that, looking at myself I’ll take the time that I need to take a decision.
“Everything is an option at the moment — carry on, have a break, or retire. I haven’t made a decision yet — it depends on what sort of options there are around.
“(It’s) not a secret I’m competitive; I’ve achieved so much in this sport and interested in achieving more, not just in taking part. We’ll see what happens and take it from there.
“Yes, I did (talk to Renault), but at no point concrete enough or… fundamental talks or real talks.
“As you’ve seen, they’ve gone a different direction, so it doesn’t change much for me. I want to take the time I need to decide.”
Vettel was also queried about the possibility of landing at Racing Point, which will become the Aston Martin team next year.
“I think Racing Point left a very strong impression, and are certainly are in a good place for this year,” he observed.
“I know some members of the team quite well from my past and for a long time.
“It’s obviously a good opportunity for them this year, to have a good car to fight with and try and improve from there.”
Practice 1 for the Styrian Grand Prix commences today at 19:00 AEST.