Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the absence of Sebastian Vettel on the 2021 grid would be a “loss” for Formula 1.
Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the current campaign and has yet to decide on his next step, indicating that he wants to stay in the sport, though also accepting he could be left off the grid.
Vettel appeared on the Red Bull-owned Servus TV channel on Monday evening as a guest on its weekly Sport und Talk chat show, along with Horner, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Vettel won all four of his titles with Red Bull, prior to leaving for Ferrari in 2015, and the team only has Max Verstappen under contract for 2021.
But while Horner praised Vettel’s achievements he sought to distance the German from the squad.
“We have so many special moments with Sebastian,” said Horner. “38 races won together, the four titles. That was an incredible time even at this stage of his career.
“If he leaves Formula 1, it would be a loss for Formula 1, but of course times change.
“We have two drivers who are doing a great job. It would be difficult to see how we could get him down there now. Because we wouldn’t have expected him to be on the market now.
“We never expected that he would be so rudely thrown out by Ferrari, practically not getting a new contract.
“We had a really great working relationship with Seb and now exactly the same with Max.
“With Alex Albon you also can’t overlook that he is developing very well. The timing is actually unexpected – and for Sebastian at least as much as for the rest of F1.
“The big question is, what is Mercedes doing? Does Lewis [Hamilton] continue, does he stop? Do they keep [Valtteri] Bottas? You have to take that into account.”
Vettel explained that he wants a new project after spending “a lot of energy” at Ferrari and stressed that financial factors would not derail any negotiations with a team.
“What’s important, of course, is to find an environment that fits,” he said.
“I have enjoyed the last five years very much in many respects, but the last five years have also taken a lot of energy.
“The goal at that time was to rebuild the team. And certainly both sides have tried everything. But at the end of the day we failed on both sides because the title didn’t come. That was the big goal.
“Now this is a new situation for me. It will be important for me to find something that is good for me and fun. I think that is a very important thing.
“The financial aspect is not at all in the foreground.
“And of course I am still very ambitious, motorsport is my life. I don’t know any other way, except the last three months it’s been a little different. But I wouldn’t really want to miss it.
“With the right job and the right place I would still feel very much at home in a Formula 1 car. I think the next few weeks, months, will shed light – also for myself – on what is possible and what I want to do.”