Mercedes warned against signing Sebastian Vettel by F1 world champion

An F1 world champion doesn't think Mercedes should sign Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel during a recent Porsche WEC test
Sebastian Vettel during a recent Porsche WEC test

Mercedes have been warned against signing Sebastian Vettel as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement by 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill.

Four-time world champion Vettel, who retired from F1 at the end of 2022, has been increasingly linked as a candidate for the vacant 2025 Mercedes seat after admitting he is considering a comeback.

Ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Toto Wolff conceded Vettel is “someone you can never discount” as Mercedes weigh up their options.

But Hill says he wouldn’t “take a chance” on whether Vettel can rediscover his best form, after enduring a difficult couple of final seasons prior to his retirement.

“He burned very brightly for an intense period. Then, something happened,” Hill told Sky F1.

“It petered out. It bumped along. I never saw that form, of the youthful Vettel that was dominant.

“He was great at the beginning of his career. Then, when it got difficult at Ferrari, it became a labour.

“Would you, as a team boss, take a chance on him rediscovering his form? I wouldn’t, frankly.”

However, Craig Slater had a different view, arguing Vettel would be the perfect ‘stopgap’ if Andrea Kimi Antonelli isn’t quite ready to step up to F1 next year.

Mercedes protege Antonelli is understood to be the favourite to replace Hamilton, depending on how his rookie Formula 2 season goes.

“He’s got the profile, he’s got the expertise,” Slater said of Vettel.

“Audi want to launch with fanfare. He’d be a figurehead for them.

“If there is a ‘stopgap’ idea in Toto Wolff’s head before Kimi Antonelli comes along, what better stopgap to have?”

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