Vettel admits Schumacher comeback now unlikely
"There is maybe only one cockpit left at the moment"
Sebastian Vettel admits that his friend and protege Mick Schumacher will probably spend another year on the Formula 1 sidelines in 2024.
Axed Haas driver Schumacher, 24, settled for the reserve role at Mercedes this year in the hope of returning to a race cockpit next season.
But the young German and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admit that the driver market is probably not going to accommodate Schumacher, the son of F1 legend Michael, in 2024.
"The situation is difficult at the moment," retired quadruple world champion Vettel said at the Nurburgring as he demonstrated his title-winning 2011 Red Bull on the fabled Nordschleife layout (photo).
"There is maybe only one cockpit left at the moment and it’s not that easy, or it’s rather difficult, to slide back in," he told Sky Deutschland.
"But there is always some possibility," Vettel added.
Schumacher admitted recently that he "unfortunately" has a plan B for 2024, and most insiders think it is simply staying put on the backup role at Mercedes.
"I think it’s important that things continue in a certain way for Mick next year," said the 36-year-old, "that he continues to work on the second chance.
"From a German perspective it’s essential because he’s not just the biggest young talent but perhaps even the only one at the moment," Vettel added.
Schumacher was replaced at Haas this year by the impressive returning 36-year-old Nico Hulkenberg - now the only German on the grid.
Vettel admits that Germany’s chances of even launching a return to the Formula 1 race calendar are slim.
"It is so expensive," he said. "The costs involved in setting up a grand prix are very high and perhaps the Germans are just a bit too realistic.
"Formula 1 has become more popular worldwide, but not in Germany."
Meanwhile, Bild newspaper reports that Vettel will attend the Japanese GP at Suzuka in two weeks.
"According to our information, it’s not about a driver comeback, but about a project," the report said.
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