AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda has backed Sebastian Vettel to be a suitable replacement for Helmut Marko in the role of managing Red Bull’s young drivers.
Sky Sports pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz fuelled rumours earlier this week that Vettel, who retired from Formula 1 at the end of last season after 15 years, could be in line for a sensational return to the sport in a non-driving role with the team he won his four World Championships with.
Vettel became the first success story of the Red Bull driver academy when he burst onto the scene with a famous pole position and victory double for the Faenza-based side, known then as Toro Rosso, in the wet at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
That triumph in Monza earned the German a promotion to the senior Red Bull set-up for the following year, where he starred to earn the Milton-Keynes operation’s first F1 win in China before embarking on a streak of winning four consecutive titles between 2010-13.
Although subsequent moves to Ferrari and then Aston Martin failed to yield a fifth crown, Vettel was repeatedly credited for his fine attention to detail in session debriefs and his ability to command situations effectively during high-stakes situations within the cockpit.
Tsunoda believes that Vettel, having been through the process successfully himself, possesses the right skill set to be a good fit to replace Marko, 79, in the Austrian’s role of overseeing Red Bull’s emerging crop of drivers in the future.
“For example, what Helmut Marko is doing now with Red Bull juniors I think Sebastian would also be very good at taking care of Red Bull juniors because he’s one of the most successful drivers in Formula 1,” he said on the Beyond the Grid F1 podcast.
“I can tell from all the race briefings from last year before qualifying, he always said the points where we have to improve in terms of track, the kerb or something like that. He was the first guy to raise his hands so I think Sebastian can be that guy.”
Tsunoda also suggested he would be intrigued to see how Vettel would get on in the position of a team boss, with AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost’s time at the helm appearing to be coming to an end according to the man himself recently.
Tost, who has been with the Faenza squad since Red Bull brought Minardi in 2005, confirmed to Dutch magazine FORMULE 1 in March that he was planning to step away from F1 to undertake other outside activities by the time he reaches 70.
“That would be really interesting to see how Sebastian would be as a team manager,” the Japanese driver added on the prospect of Vettel replacing Tost. “He can be anything.”
Having struggled at points during his first two years, Tsunoda has enjoyed a solid start to his third full F1 season, avoiding late race carnage to score his first points of the year last time out in Australia.
The 22-year-old has said he will miss Tost once he departs F1, citing how the Austrian has consistently been a strong supporter of his in tough times.
“I will definitely miss him,” he expressed.
“We share a lot of moments together. We’re always on the same page. He has a lot of leadership. I will miss him, especially feeling the support he gives me so, if I lose him, maybe I won’t feel as comfortable or excited in the team compared to usual.”