Vettel says he’d ‘seriously consider’ one-off F1 return at favourite track Suzuka, as he describes emotions ahead of final Japanese GP
Sebastian Vettel knows he’s on something of a farewell tour, as he winds down towards F1 retirement at the end of 2022. But the German driver seemed especially emotional ahead of what will be his final Japanese Grand Prix… for now, at least.
Suzuka will go down in the annals as one of Vettel’s happiest hunting grounds in F1, the four-time champion having claimed five pole positions and four victories here – while he also claimed the second of those four championships at the 2011 race.
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Speaking ahead of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel was asked what he would miss about the iconic Japanese circuit.
“Well, I’ve always loved the track,” replied the Aston Martin driver, who’ll be replaced at the team by Fernando Alonso next year. “I think it stands out as my favourite track on the calendar.
“From the very first year, this has been a special place. For me, just the layout of corners, the first sector, it’s iconic, it’s a figure-of-eight track, the only one we have. Plus, the atmosphere, the attention the sport gets when we come here is crazy so yeah, lots of very nice memories.
“I didn’t think at the other races – I know it will be my last time, but here it does feel a bit different somehow. I look forward to the sessions we have and the race on Sunday.”
Vettel is yet to announce what racing plans, if any, will feature in his future once the chequered flag flies in Abu Dhabi on November 20. But asked if he envisioned ever racing at Suzuka again in any category, Vettel hinted that he’d countenance a reserve driver role in F1 in the coming seasons – for one Grand Prix at least…
“I don’t know, never say never,” said Vettel. “I mean it’s a great track for many reasons. Who knows what the future brings, I don’t know. Obviously I love driving and I think around this track I always felt alive and the passion… feels alive, so we’ll see what kind of car in the future will come up.
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“Maybe one of [the F1 drivers] in the future will feel sick – I don’t wish for them to feel so, but I wouldn’t mind jumping back in for a race at Suzuka at any time. We’ll see what the future brings – at the moment I have no plans.”
Pushed on whether he was serious, Vettel added: “If anybody is happy to sign up a driver for a single race, it’s something I’d seriously consider!”