ABU DHABI – Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that he expected his old rival Sebastian Vettel to make a Formula One comeback.
The 35-year-old four-time champion is bowing out of the sport after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday but Hamilton believes the 53-time grand prix race winner will find the lure of F1 hard to resist.
“I’m sitting here kind of accepting, yeah, this is your last race but you’ll be back,” said Hamilton, sharing a news conference with Fernando Alonso and Vettel at the Yas Marina track.
“Formula One has a way of sucking you back in and we’ve noticed that with so many other drivers so...
“He’s come back, you’re probably going to come back,” he added to the German, referring to 41-year-old Alonso, who made his F1 return last year and is moving from Alpine to Aston Martin as Vettel’s replacement next season.
Vettel, a father of three, announced his retirement ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July, saying his goals had changed and he wanted to focus on family and other interests outside the sport.
Speaking to Formula One’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast released on Wednesday, Vettel, who left Ferrari for Aston Martin at the end of 2020, said the idea of retirement had been growing for some time and that he had initially resisted it.
“To try and understand, initially it grows inside you, and like I said it was a bit confusing because I never had that before, the desire to maybe stay at home, not go on the plane, not looking forward to travel,” he said.
“Obviously after the change from Ferrari to Aston Martin, at that time it was the first time I really thought it might be the time to stop,” he added.
Formula One has seen some high profile comebacks over the years.
Vettel’s boyhood idol Michael Schumacher came back to the sport aged 41 after a three-year retirement to lead Mercedes’ return to F1 as a works team.
Austrian great Niki Lauda made a comeback with McLaren in the 1980s and went on to clinch his third title in 1984.
Alonso returned last year while Haas on Thursday announced 35-year-old Nico Hulkenberg would be making a full-time comeback next season, replacing Schumacher’s son Mick at the United States-owned team.
Some fans have expressed hope that Vettel could mirror Schumacher’s return, with another German manufacturer, Audi, set to make their F1 debut in 2026.
Vettel jokingly suggested he could agree some sort of a swop with Hamilton, who turns 38 in January but is keen on extending his Mercedes deal.
“We can make a deal... when you want to get away, maybe then (I want to come back),” he said. REUTERS