Sebastian Vettel has confirmed he is in “loose talks” with Racing Point about a future move but insists at this stage it is just to gain an understanding of potential options in Formula 1.
Germany’s Bild newspaper this week claimed Vettel and Racing Point were in talks regarding a seat for the four-time world champion in 2021 — when the team will become Aston Martin Racing — despite Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both being under contract. Discussing those rumors in Budapest ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel says he has had initial discussions but downplayed their significance.
“I think rumors are called rumors for a reason,” Vettel said. “Anyway, now only a couple of days after Austria, there’s not much that has changed. Given you mentioned I was talking at length (last week), probably there is no point for me to expand on this. The fact is there is no news.
“If you ask about Racing Point, everyone is talking about Racing Point — the first two races have been impressive, the performance on track. But when it comes to myself, there is no news; nothing has changed within a week.
“I said last (week) it will probably take some time — most importantly for myself to make the right decision for myself. Then once there is something to announce or something say, I think that will be the right time to do so. Anything at this stage is still open — driving next year, not driving next year and maybe coming back or not driving anymore and doing something different. I’m not feeling pressure to make my decision too quickly.
“I said last week I have been in talks with Renault, for example, so it’s just talks. At a later stage — with anyone, I think — then it would become a bit more concrete.”
With Mercedes expected to confirm Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for 2021, Red Bull ruling out a return for Vettel and McLaren and Renault already having finalized their line-ups, Vettel says he’s unsure whether Racing Point is his only realistic option of staying in F1.
“There’s two ways to look at it. One is on paper, which seats there are and which there are not. For that, I have too little information in terms of what are peoples’ contracts and so on.
“The other thing is, I have been around for a long time and you never know. Obviously things can always change. Irrespective of that, I need to make the decision myself, and then see if there is something suitable in that direction.”
Vettel insists he was not surprised to see Red Bull publicly rule out his return last week despite admitting he would rejoin the team he won his four titles with if offered a seat.
“No, as far as I can see, they have two drivers there, so it’s not a surprise. All I said was my honest and open opinion. Coming back again, it would depend what options there are, what I want to do, and then to find the best solution for myself. I think that’s my key priority.”