Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says Sebastian Vettel will definitely not be returning to the team, despite discussions about the idea having taken place.
Vettel is out of contract at the end of the year and appeared alongside Horner and Max Verstappen on a Red Bull-backed sports talk television show on Monday, increasing speculation he could make a return to his former team. After Vettel confirmed he would accept the seat if offered a Red Bull drive, Horner (pictured above, with Vettel) says the team did discuss it internally but is backing its current line-up of Verstappen and Alex Albon.
“Obviously the topic has been raised,” Horner told Sky Sports. “We had a brilliant time with Seb — he’ll forever be a part of our history — but we didn’t expect him to be on the market this year and our commitment is to our existing drivers. We think we have a great pairing in Max and Alex, and we think that has great potential for the future as well, so unfortunately it’s not something that we’re going to be able to accommodate.
“That is a definite no, I’m afraid; Sebastian is aware of that. It’s unusual for a four-time world champion to be out of a drive at this point in the year so I guess he has got a couple of choices available to him, assuming Racing Point or a year out and re-evaluate the options in a year’s time.”
The potential of a switch to Racing Point — which will become Aston Martin Racing in 2021 — has previously been raised despite Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both being under contract, and Horner says there’s always a chance of a team buying another driver out of his deal.
“I don’t think Lance is going to get parked. Of course drivers contracts between the teams, you never know what is within them — it’s only the contract recognition board which has full sight of them. I’m sure perhaps they have options or break points, but that’s really none of our business.”