Aston Martin scotch prospect of shock Vettel return as Drugovich confirmed as standby driver

By Sports Desk February 26, 2023

Aston Martin closed the door on a Sebastian Vettel comeback by revealing Felipe Drugovich is the driver they have put on standby for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Formula 2 champion Drugovich will step up from his role as a reserve driver if Lance Stroll is unfit to take part in the March 3-5 race weekend. Stroll sustained a wrist injury while cycling, causing him to miss pre-season testing.

Team principal Mike Krack initially refused to rule out the possibility of Vettel returning to the cockpit, despite the German great retiring at the end of the 2022 season.

Vettel, who won four world titles and enjoyed a 16-season Formula One career, has stayed in touch with Krack since hanging up his racing helmet.

Krack declined to say whether Vettel had expressed an interest in a possible one-off return, which would have seen him team up with fellow former world champion Fernando Alonso.

Yet confirmation the 35-year-old would not be involved came on Sunday, with 22-year-old Brazilian Drugovich in line for a possible F1 race debut.

In a statement on Twitter, Aston Martin said: "The team will continue to give Lance every chance to race, pending recovery from his injury. Should he not be fit to compete, then Felipe will drive the AMR23 alongside Fernando."

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    On Wednesday, Horner was cleared to continue as Red Bull team principal following an internal probe into “inappropriate behaviour” by the F1 team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH. He has always denied the claims.

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    On Friday, Horner, 50, was seen speaking to a Formula One official at the front of Red Bull Racing’s hospitality suite.

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    But just 24 hours later, hundreds of messages and a number of images apparently between Horner and the complainant were sent from an anonymous email account to members of the Formula One paddock – including FIA president Mohamed ben Sulayem, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and the grid’s nine other team principals, as well as the media – on the eve of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

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