Sebastian Vettel to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 F1 season
After leaving Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel signed two three-year contracts with Ferrari, one in 2014 and the other in 2017. This year however is set to be Vettel’s last season with Ferrari in Formula One. A joint decision has been made not to extend Sebastian’s current contract beyond 2020.
Vettel will very much be a part of Ferrari’s history books with his 14 Grand Prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the F1 team after Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda. He has also scored the most points for Ferrari, finishing in the top three of the driver’s championship three times, helping the Italian team consistently stay amongst the top F1 teams currently.
With Charles Leclerc having signed a long-term contract with Ferrari till the end of 2024, Vettel had somewhat become the number two driver for Ferrari since the past few months. Adding more insult to the injury were Vettel’s multiple unforced errors during the last season. There were rumours that Ferrari had offered him a single-year contract extension with a significant reduction in salary. This could very much be the reason that the two couldn’t come to an agreement in terms of further contract extension.
Who replaces Vettel? A lot of speculations have been drawn regarding this question. There are rumours that current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz could take Vettel’s seat 2021 onwards. Daniel Ricciardo could also be an option considering that the Australian is said to be unsettled at Renault for now. Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes also ends this year, but the six-time world champion has expressed his desire to stay with Mercedes.
On the departure of Sebastian Vettel, Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1, quoted, "This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. 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 Vettel too commented on his exit from Ferrari, “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. 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.”