Sir Jackie Stewart has warned Sebastian Vettel against swapping the stronghold of support he has built up at Red Bull for a move to Ferrari to go up against Fernando Alonso.
Strong reports over recent months from respected outlets in the Italian media have suggested that reigning two-time world champion Vettel has some sort of agreement in place with Ferrari over potentially joining the Maranello marque as Alonso’s team-mate in 2014, although Red Bull chief Christian Horner, whose team announced last year that Vettel had signed a contract extension up to the end of the season after next, has insisted his star driver is going nowhere.
With the driver situation among the top teams for 2013 ultimately looking set to prove more static than many had expected going into this season, the Vettel/Ferrari 2014 speculation has nonetheless provoked much intrigue already – although Stewart fails to see the logic on Vettel’s part of such a move at this stage of his career.
Speaking in an exclusive interview in the latest edition of the JA on F1 podcast (listen in full here), the three-time title winner reckons that such is the position of strength Alonso has already established for himself in his two and a half years at Ferrari, Vettel would find it difficult to overcome that. Indeed Stewart suggests that the 25-year-old should really only consider leaving Red Bull when the team’s competitiveness started to wane.
Asked if he was in Vettel’s position would he take on the challenge of going up against Alonso, Stewart told the podcast: “No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do that at this time. I think Alonso’s far too strong for that. I think Alonso is so mature that he would see anybody off because of the relationship he has already built within Ferrari.
“I think it’s much better to let that pass for the moment and stay with Red Bull because he’s got a team of people that he knows intimately now who are really imperative for him to have and they feel that it’s imperative for them to have him. I wouldn’t break that mold at this time. In fact I would almost wait until I had a very bad year with a Red Bull before I would think of leaving.
“Then my option would be ‘who am I going to get who is going to provide me with what I need’ – and it may not necessarily be Ferrari.”
Stewart, nevertheless, remains a huge fan of F1’s youngest ever double world champion and is convinced the recently-turned 25-year-old will remain at the forefront of the sport for a long time to come.
“I think he’s remarkable,” he said. “He certainly was the most mature 24-year-old I had seen in Formula 1. Now he’s 25 and I don’t see the end of that coming – I think his mind management has had a lot to do with that. For somebody of that age to have the mind recognition to be able to discipline himself in such a fashion I think is extraordinary.
“He occasionally lets out one that he shouldn’t but then he grabs it back knowing that that is the wrong way to go. I think he is surrounded by good people: he’s still very good with his family, I think he leads a normal life in his own way in comparison to what he is as a world figure in sport. He’s held that down in a very mature way for a young man. I think his skill’s going to continue for a good many years.”
Hear more from Jackie Stewart and interviews with some of the biggest names in F1 in the August edition of the JA on F1 podcast. Download it directly here or via iTunes.