Skip to content

Sebastian Vettel: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff 'can't discount' former F1 champion from Lewis Hamilton's seat

"Sebastian is flirting with the idea of going back racing," says Toto Wolff; Wolff also suggests rivals poised to make 2025 driver moves; watch Japanese GP qualifying at 7am on Saturday live on Sky Sports F1, with the race at 6am on Sunday

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff reveals Sebastian Vettel is 'flirting' with returning to racing and added Mercedes can't be 'discounted' from those decisions.

Toto Wolff admits Sebastian Vettel is "someone you can never discount" in his considerations for who replaces Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes but says it is currently "too early" for them to decide on a successor.

But the Mercedes team principal did predict that rival teams are poised to make moves in what stands as an unpredictable 2025 driver market by suggesting: "Some of the really good guys they are about to sign for some of the other teams."

Vettel, who retired from F1 at the end of 2022 after 16 seasons and four world titles, had already been loosely linked with a possible return to some form of racing before he said in interviews this week that he was indeed thinking about a possible comeback to the top level. He also said that he remained in close contact with Wolff and other team principals.

The 36-year-old recently got back behind the wheel in a test of Porsche's Le Mans hypercar ahead of a possible future appearance in the prestigious 24-hour race.

"With Seb I have a friendship that goes back a long time, and we are talking about everything," Wolff told Sky Sports F1 at the Japanese GP.

"Sebastian is flirting with the idea of going back racing, whether it is with Porsche in Le Mans, which is a great programme, or whether it is coming back into Formula 1 - and I try to be a sparring partner and tell him what I think.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sebastian Vettel reveals he is considering a return to F1 and remains in contact with a number of team principals including Mercedes' Toto Wolff.

"And clearly you can never discount the name for our team as well."

Also See:

Speaking in Friday's FIA press conference at Suzuka, Wolff also remarked that "Sebastian is someone you can never discount".

"His track record is phenomenal and sometimes maybe taking a break is also good to re-evaluate what's important for you and re-find your motivation," he added.

"As I said before, we haven't taken the decision yet and it's not something that we plan to do in the next few weeks."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel returned to track action as he tested the Porsche 963 hypercar that will feature in 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year.

Is the F1 driver market about to burst back into life?

With Hamilton's shock Ferrari switch having served to absolutely blow open a driver market for next season that was already set to be fluid owing to the fact half of the 2024 grid are out of contract, Wolff expects some of the next big moves to fall in to place soon - albeit not yet at Mercedes.

"I know that the driver market is very dynamic, some of the really good guys they are about to sign for some of the other teams, and we want to continue to have these discussions and keep the options open," he said.

"But at that stage it's much too early for us to commit to a driver whether very young or whether very experienced - I don't want to say old! The next few months will give us more clues."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sebastian Vettel shares how life has changed since his retirement from Formula 1 and discusses his thoughts on all the paddock news so far this season, including Lewis Hamilton's decision to sign for Ferrari in 2025.

Wolff told Fox Sports Australia a fortnight ago in Melbourne that Max Verstappen, whose Red Bull future has been called in to question by the recent tumultuous events at the world championship-winning team, was his number one target to replace Hamilton.

Carlos Sainz, who Hamilton is replacing at Ferrari, and Williams' Alex Albon are also contenders as is Mercedes' existing junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli, the highly-rated 17-year-old Italian who is currently competing in his maiden season of Formula 2.

Asked whether he could at least say whether they had whittled their options to replace Hamilton down to no more than three drivers, Wolff replied: "Yes."

Sky Sports F1's live Japanese GP schedule

Saturday April 6
3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (session starts at 3.30am)*
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
9am: Ted's Qualifying Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese GP Qualifying replay

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Look back on some of the most exciting title deciders to take place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sunday April 7
5am: Grand Prix Sunday Japanese GP build-up*
8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
9am: Ted's Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese Grand Prix highlights*
10.30am: Japanese Grand Prix replay

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

Formula 1's biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW


Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League, EFL, F1, England Cricket, Tennis and so much more.

Around Sky