Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has recently been in contract negotiation with Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto to extend beyond the 2020 season. The pair have apparently not been able to come to an extension agreement, and Vettel will be leaving the Ferrari team—where he has raced since leaving Red Bull in 2015—according to a report from Auto Motor und Sport.
This marks the second time in recent years that Ferrari has hired away a multi-time champion at the top of their game and failed to deliver championship results. Ferrari have not produced a world driver’s champion since Kimi Räikkönen’s 2007 campaign.
The 32-year-old driver’s contract with the prancing horse is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season. The word from Italy is that it has offered Vettel a number of extension contracts, but he apparently found the conditions for those contracts underwhelming enough to walk away from the table without an agreement.
Meanwhile, Ferrari secured a four-year extension to Charles Leclerc’s contract, now set through the 2024 season.
Allegedly Vettel was aiming for a longer contract than Ferrari was willing to offer, and Ferrari was looking to reduce the German’s annual salary. Presumably Ferrari doesn’t see the point in paying Vettel quite so much when it can get a similar (or better) showing from newcomer Charles Leclerc. Vettel produced 14 victories from 102 races with the Scuderia, while Leclerc has already got two in his first season with the team.
So, where will Vettel find himself in 2021?
Mercedes would be Vettel’s goal, for obvious reasons, but it seems unlikely that Mercedes would partner him with Hamilton.
It’s possible that McLaren could want Vettel, but McLaren hasn’t been a well-performing team for longer than Ferrari hasn’t been. And besides, team boss Zak Brown has been shouting lately that team budgets need to be capped well below the current rate. Could McLaren even afford Vettel if they wanted him?
That leaves Red Bull, where Vettel would likely be overshadowed by Max Verstappen, or Renault which hasn’t won a single race since Fernando Alonso was with the team in 2008.
According to a report from Sky Italia, Vettel has been courted by both McLaren and Renault, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Personally, I’ll jump back up on my soap box and shout “Vettel, retire bitch” from the top of my lungs. It’s time.
It’s fair to say that there are any number of young talented drivers looking for a chance to drive for big red. The two that spring to mind immediately are Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo. Sainz drove well beyond the capabilities of his McLaren in 2019, regularly scoring points and showing up his teammate to finish 6th in the championship standings. Ricciardo, once a championship hopeful with Red Bull, spent 2019 mired in a shitty Renault chassis. With a season-best result of 4th, Ricciardo was also driving well above the car’s capabilities and finished far higher than teammate Hülkenberg.
Get ready for a wild silly season, because it’s starting super early this year.