F1 shock: Sebastian Vettel to leave Ferrari at the end of 2020
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are set to split at the end of this season after six years together in Formula 1, according to Motorsport-Total sources.
The sources have indicated to Motorsport.com’s sister site that Vettel’s contract talks have ended and that an announcement confirming their split at the end of the year could come as early as Tuesday morning.
Vettel's current three-year contract with Ferrari was signed in August 2017 and expires at the end of 2020. Negotiations over an extension were accompanied by media speculation for weeks, but now the decision has been made that Vettel will leave the Maranello-based team.
Some weeks ago, Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Ferrari had offered Vettel a one-year contract for 2021, albeit with a reduced salary. Ferrari had already tied down the German's teammate Charles Leclerc until the end of 2024.
This shifted the dynamics at the Scuderia against Vettel, who appeared in danger of becoming cast as Leclerc's number two despite his 14 wins for the team.
Vettel, who won four titles in succession for Red Bull in 2010-13, was overshadowed by teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, and then departed for Ferrari the following year. Although he has twice finished runner-up in the championship, in 2017 and 2018, his time at the Italian team has been marked by a series of costly high-profile errors.
Having easily outperformed Kimi Raikkonen during their time as teammates, Vettel appeared to be on the back foot almost from the moment Leclerc made the step up to Ferrari from Sauber at the start of the 2019 season.
Where, or indeed whether, Vettel will continue in F1 is currently unclear. Reports in the Italian press claim that Renault has already made him a concrete offer, because Ricciardo has already made up his mind to leave the French outfit.
Another possibility would be McLaren, if – as is rumoured – Carlos Sainz ends up being his replacement at Ferrari. The 25-year-old Spaniard’s contract with McLaren also expires at the end of 2020, and it is said that he would be a popular choice at Maranello.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has already ruled out a return to the Austrian team for Vettel. Max Verstappen is under contract there until the end of 2023, and, according to Marko, Red Bull is not willing to pay two superstars “for very simple monetary reasons”.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com ahead of the cancelled Australian Grand Prix, Vettel – who turns 33 this summer – revealed he is also pondering his future after F1. He didn’t rule out racing in other championships, having raced in F1 since 2007.
“If I'm realistic, I'm not going to be here in 10 years,” said the German. "So I think this is something you naturally start to think about.
“I think I'm in a very fortunate position that I can probably try and do a lot of things, once I have decided to stop racing in F1. Maybe race something else, maybe do something different in motorsport or do something completely different outside. I have some ideas, but I haven't decided. I'm quite relaxed.”
Six-time and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is also only under contract with Mercedes until the end of 2020 and has not yet officially announced his future plans.
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Ferrari confirms Vettel exit after 2020 F1 season