Ferarri has confirmed it will be parting ways with the former four-time F1 world champion, Sebastian Vettel after the 2020 season. Vettels’ contract would expire after the 2020 F1 season and both Ferrari has decided to not extend the contract with the Italian team from 2021. This now leaves Vettel without a seat in the sport from 2021 and it is possible that Vettel might consider retiring from the sport entirely.
Mattia Binotto, Managing Director Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal said; “It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives. Sebastian is already part of the Scuderia’s history, with his 14 Grands Prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the team.”
Vettel confirmed in a statement issued by Ferrari saying; “My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020. In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be. What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.”
Vettel had joined Ferrari in 2015 after Fernando Alonso moved to McLaren. The 2020 season will be Vettel’s 6th and last season with Scuderia. Vettel won four titles during his career with Red Bull Racing between 2010-2013. But moved to Ferrari to try and win his fifth, and help Ferrari win their first driver’s title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 and Constructor’s title in 2008.
In 2019, Ferrari brought on Charles Leclerc and in only his second season in Formula One, Leclerc won two races, out of the 10 podium finishes. Vettel, on the other hand, had 9 podiums to his name with a single victory, after his penalty in Canada. The 22-year old driver also out-raced the 4-time champion in his first year at Ferrari, Vettel’s inconsistent performance with unforced errors, like spinning at the Ascari Chicane at Monza at Ferrari’s home race in Italy led to Leclerc becoming the rising star of the team. All of this is said to have allowed Ferrari negotiating powers against Vettel for renewing his contract which has now fallen through.
Reports suggest that Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz are pipped to be Vettel’s replacement at Ferrari to race alongside Leclerc. Vettel leaving Ferrari will now cause a ripple effect across the grid with drivers moving to different teams from 2021 with some reevaluating existing contracts that would eventually result from Vettel’s move. Vettel’s choices to move to a rival team seem little to none at this point. The seats at Mercedes are already spoken for, and a return to Red Bull is also unlikely. Only options left for Vettel would be a move to a mid-field team, or retirement from the sport entirely which would be a sombre note to leave on.