SPIELBERG: Red Bull have given “a definite no” to four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of returning to them next year, team boss Christian Horner said on Friday.
The German, who is out of contract with Ferrari at the end of the season and facing an uncertain future, had said on Thursday he would say yes to a Red Bull drive if one was offered.
Vettel won his titles with Red Bull from 2010-2013 and remains on good terms with the Austrian energy drink brand’s senior management.
“We had a brilliant time with Seb,” Horner told Sky F1 television during practice for the Styrian Grand Prix at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. “He will forever be a part of our history.
“We didn’t expect him to be on the market this year and our commitment is to our existing drivers. We think we’ve got a great pairing in Max (Verstappen) and in Alex (Albon). We think that has great potential for the future as well.
“So unfortunately it’s not something we are going to be able to accommodate. That is a definite no, I’m afraid. Sebastian I think is aware of that.”
Horner’s comments closed another door to the 33-year-old after Renault announced on Wednesday that they had signed double world champion Fernando Alonso to fill the vacancy left by departing Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo, Vettel’s former Red Bull teammate, is moving to McLaren next year in place of Ferrari-bound Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
Vettel’s options would appear to be dwindling, with champions Mercedes expected to stick with six-times champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Racing Point, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, or Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo could still be possibilities, however.
“It’s unusual for a four-time world champ to be out of a drive at this point in the year,” said Horner.
“I guess he’s got a couple of choices available to him, I assume either Racing Point or a year out and re-evaluate the options in a year’s time.”
Racing Point’s current drivers are Lance Stroll, son of the owner, and Mexican Sergio Perez who signed a three-year contract extension last August although the details remained confidential.
“I don’t think Lance is going to get fired,” quipped Horner.