Never rule out 'phenomenal' Vettel, says Mercedes boss Wolff

Hamilton gave his former rival his seal of approval on Thursday, saying he would "love for Seb to come back" and calling him "an amazing option" for Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel(Photo | AFP)

SUZUKA, JAPAN: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that "you can never discount" Sebastian Vettel, after the four-time world champion hinted he could return to Formula One to replace Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel, who retired in 2022, said earlier this week that he had held talks with Wolff, who needs to replace seven-time world champion Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

Hamilton said in February that he was leaving to join Ferrari at the end of the season after 11 years with the Silver Arrows.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, Wolff said Vettel's track record was "phenomenal" but stressed that his team have not chosen Hamilton's successor yet.

"It's not something that we plan to do in the next few weeks," he said.

"The driver market is very dynamic. Some of the really good guys are about to sign for some of the other teams.

"We want to continue to have discussions and keep the options open, but at this stage it's much too early to commit to a driver," he added.

Vettel won his four world championships with Red Bull from 2010-13.

He bowed out of Formula One at the end of the 2022 season after six years at Ferrari and two with Aston Martin.

Hamilton gave his former rival his seal of approval on Thursday, saying he would "love for Seb to come back" and calling him "an amazing option" for Mercedes.

Wolff also had words of praise for the 36-year-old German.

"Sebastian is someone that you can never discount," he said.

"His track record is phenomenal.

"Sometimes taking a break is also good to re-evaluate what is important for you and find your motivation."

Mercedes have been linked with several drivers to replace Hamilton, who will take Carlos Sainz's seat at Ferrari.

Triple world champion Max Verstappen is reportedly top of Wolff's wish list.

Highly rated young Italian F2 driver Kimi Antonelli and Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, have also been mentioned.

Wolff said his team have a shortlist in mind but refused to say how many names were on it.

He also said he was looking forward to assessing the 17-year-old Antonelli.

"He's been our young boy for a long time and we're keen to see what he is able to do in a Formula One car," he said.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com