Hamilton predicts Vettel F1 return, Webber sees 'perfect' option elsewhere

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Lewis Hamilton believes Sebastian Vettel will return to Formula 1 in the future.

The four-time world champion called time on his 15-year career at the end of 2022, deciding it was the right time to spend more time with family among other reasons.

But Hamilton, who grew up racing against Vettel and enjoyed two F1 title battles against the German in 2017 and 2018, pointed to the recent trend to suggest we haven't seen the last of Seb.

“I think we always had such great, great battles, honestly. And I was just sitting here thinking most drivers are coming back, like Fernando [Alonso]," he said in Abu Dhabi.

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“You’re probably going to come back," he added talking directly to Vettel. "We’re seeing other drivers coming back. So I’m sitting here kind of accepting, yes, it’s your last race, but he’ll be back.

“Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in and we’ve noticed that from so many other drivers.”

That drew a quick response from Vettel, who suggested: “We can make a deal. We’ll speak outside. When you want to get away maybe then I’d want to get back…”

While Vettel's final years in F1 haven't been ideal, with a difficult divorce from Ferrari followed by two years racing in the midfield at Aston Martin, Nico Rosberg believes the 37-year-old showed he still has the speed in him to perform.

"There have been phases in which he drove fantastic again, for example at the end of this season. But that was not always the case," he told Germany's Sport1, noting the spins which Vettel was also partial to on occasion.

“But in the last races, it seemed like he was liberated and he drove like in his best period. He drove brilliant races and showed incredible things.

Vettel USGP

“In Austin, he was in the lead and in Brazil he was fourth or fifth with a car that was extremely slow. That was very strong and because of that, I believe he had a nice end to his career.

"Whether he stopped at the right time, that’s a question only he can answer himself.”

As for former Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, he believes Vettel might be done with F1 but sees a strong chance he'll return to the track elsewhere.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he started something else in motorsport,” the Australian said via Speed Week.

“Formula E would be perfect for him! No, kidding.

“Sebastian will spend a lot of time with the family as advertised, that’s very understandable. He’ll see what it’s like not to be caught in the treadmill anymore and to be able to do something else.

"He’ll have time to think. And he’s an incredibly successful guy, very wealthy. He has a choice and all the options.”