Sebastian Vettel refuses to rule out Max Verstappen partnership at Red Bull

Max Verstappen commits future to Red Bull signing £200m deal

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has refused to rule out a sensational return to Red Bull to partner Max Verstappen once his contract expires at the end of 2022. The British team have struggled immensely throughout the season, although both Vettel and teammate Lance Stroll scored points at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last weekend, 

Vettel missed the opening two rounds of the season after contracting Covid, and his return at the Australian Grand Prix was derailed by a mechanical issue. Stand-in Nico Hulkenberg remarkably out-qualified Stroll before beating him in Saudi Arabia. 

However, Hulkenberg quipped he was ‘keen, but not desperate’ to return to drive for Aston Martin after the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Vettel then crashed twice in Melbourne, adding there were ‘too many things’ wrong with the car.

Vettel appeared to return to form at Imola with an impressive P8 finish, while Stroll claimed P10 to secure Aston Martin’s first points of the season. It remains to be seen how much the changing conditions influenced the result.

As for Red Bull, they will hope to have gotten over their reliability issues that plagued the early rounds of the season. The Milton Keynes-based team brought upgrades to their car ahead of the trip to Imola, which clearly paid dividends as Verstappen and Sergio Perez secured a one-two finish – their first since 2016. 

The Mexican is out of contract at the end of the season and Vettel has suggested his Aston Martin future is dependent on results. The 34-year-old appears to believe a return to Red Bull could well be on the cards.

“I haven’t spoken with Christian (Horner) for a while, so I don’t know,” Vettel said. “I mean, time will tell.”

The German – who has won 53 Grands Prix across his glittering career – added his only goal is to help Aston Martin develop and move up the grid where they can compete for points and even podiums. He added: “At the minute I think the focus is on the now and on a mountain ahead of us that we try to climb.”

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack has admitted the team need to perform in order to convince Vettel to stay. He insisted the former champion is a key part in the team’s plan going forwards.

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“I’m not going to speak about contracts here,” he said. “But obviously if you have a driver like Sebastian Vettel that you can keep motivated by giving him the car that he deserves, I think you would be foolish not to try to retain him.

“I understand his comments 100 percent. He wants to see progress, he wants to see the car moving forward. He’s not a driver that wants to fight for P18 or P16 so I fully understand his comments.

“It’s up to us to deliver the tool that is needed for him to perform.”

The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Miami Grand Prix on May 8.

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