Sebastian Vettel waved an emotional goodbye to the F1 paddock somewhat over a month ago – but is already being tipped to return to the game in a senior management position. And the legendary German driver has even held preliminary talks with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko over a future return to the team where he claimed 4 world titles.
Vettel became one of the crucial respected drivers on the grid during a storied 15-year F1 profession and was given a fitting tribute as he drove his final race for Aston Martin on the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
The 35-year-old is yet to reveal his future profession path, and has stepped away from the demanding F1 circuit to spend more time together with his young family. But having sealed 39 of his 53 race wins at Red Bull in a surprising period of dominance, there are undeniable deep rooted connections with the Austrian team.
And in keeping with Sky F1 in Germany, Marko has already discussed a future ‘top management role’ with the perceptive and informed Vettel.
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“It will not be unimaginable that he’ll come back for a top management position,” Marko said. “We had a conversation, and if he could get a top management position, that will appeal to him.
“That became clear throughout the conversation. He will surely have the potential and personality for it. But for now, we’ll let him plant just a few trees.”
As Marko notes, an imminent return to F1 in any form appears unlikely for Vettel as he takes a break from the intensity and pressures that the game brings. Vettel used his platform on the grid to boost awareness about causes vital to him, comparable to sustainability, climate protection and human rights.
And he could spend more time as an activist in his retirement, but has also been earmarked by old boss Horner as a future driver manager, relatively like Marko, who helped him cement his legacy as an icon of the game. Horner and Marko enjoyed a golden period for Red Bull with Vettel between 2010 and 2013, and the team principal believes his former driver could have similar success within the manager role.
“He’s an excellent people person,” Horner said about Vettel in Abu Dhabi last month. “He understands the worth of individuals and the contribution they make to success.
“And I feel he’s became somewhat of a driver counsellor the last couple of years as well. So it really depends what he wishes to use himself to. He’s one among those guys that’s annoyingly good at anything he chooses to do. So I’m sure if he selected that path, he can be excellent at it.”