Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has questioned Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel’s “motivation” ahead of his return at the Australian Grand Prix.

The four-time champion has been missing from the Aston Martin line-up for the opening two rounds after testing positive for COVID-19.

In his absence, Nico Hulkenberg has deputised for him creditably.

The reserve driver may not have managed to get his team amongst the points, but has looked more convincing than Lance Stroll, who is also pointless so far.

Vettel didn’t have the best of campaigns last year either, even though the expectations from Aston Martin were reasonably high.

The team finished a disappointing seventh in the standings and Vettel ended 12th amongst the drivers.

Marko is not the only one to question Vettel’s motivation in the sport. Recently, there was even a suggestion that Vettel made more of his COVID illness than was the case.

Marko did admit that if Vettel was still motivated, he could challenge for podium finishes.

“You saw that in Baku (finished second), and he was also very fast in Monte Carlo,” Marko said.

“But where Aston Martin are at the moment, I don’t think the motivation will be too great.

“Aston Martin have to build a more competitive car. If you drive outside the points, the motivation is not the greatest.”

Vettel’s future has been under speculation

Sebastian Vettel. Credit: astonmartinracing.com

There has been some doubt surrounding Vettel’s future for a while now.

When he was ousted by Ferrari back in 2020, there were suggestions that he should consider retirement or at least take a break.

While the German driver did not give in to these suggestions, his time at Aston Martin has been far from promising.

He has even spoken about considering his options at the end of the current season when his contract at Aston Martin is set to expire.

Given the fact that Vettel was a free agent after his deal with Ferrari broke down, some had even suggested that Red Bull was a possible destination for him. At the time, Vettel said it was not an option for him.

However, the team chose to sign Sergio Perez instead, who is also now subject to a swap deal with Pierre Gasly.

If at all this deal does go through, Marko was asked if he thought Vettel could provide competition to Perez for the seat at AlphaTauri.

“I don’t think he is coming with that request,” Marko affirmed.

Do you think Vettel still has some years of F1 racing left in him? Should he consider retirement if things don’t work in his favour this season? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: Former F1 champion alleges frosty relationship between Hamilton and Wolff following 2021 fall-out

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