Vettel debuted in Formula 1 for the German manufacturer back in 2007, when replacing injured Jacques Villeneuve in the US Grand Prix. Although he made a great impression in the BMW cockpit – scoring an 8th place in his very first F1 start – Vettel was not retained for the remainder of the season, but “handed” to Scuderia Toro Rosso.
As argued by Horner, the signing of Vettel mid-way through the 2007 season sealed the complete separation of the “Baby Schumacher” from the German car maker. After entering the “Red Bull family”, BMW's rights over their former driver ceased to exist.
“They could have had him, they did have an option on Sebastian, the condition being that they give him a race cockpit for the 2008 season. In the middle of 2007 they let him go to the Red Bull family, to Toro Rosso, and they lost their rights to him,” Horner was quoted as saying by German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
Vettel switched from Toro Rosso to Red Bull at the end of last year, replacing retired David Coulthard. So far, the German driver managed to score a win for both Red Bull-backed teams.
Apart from BMW, McLaren and Ferrari are also believed to be interested in signing Vettel for the future. The German driver's deal with Red Bull expires at the end of 2009, but Horner announced further options could be enabled.