F1 world champ Vettel to leave Ferrari 12 | 05 | 2020

    FOUR-TIME FORMULA ONE world champ Sebastian Vettel has confirmed he is to leave Ferrari. The German racer will leave the Italian giant at the end of the 2020 season. Both parties are calling it a “joint decision”. Early favourite to replace him is Spaniard, Carlos Sainz. (Related: Sainz to Ferrari; Riciardo to McLaren)

    It’s understood discussions and negotiations over a new contact for Vettel, who has won 14 grands prix and took 12 pole positions for Ferrari since joining the for the 2015 season, broke down. His existing three-year deal ends at the end of the season. But despite months of talks, it’s now official that both sides have decided to part company.

    "This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best," Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said today in a statement. "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.

    "On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities he has displayed over these five years, during which we shared so many great moments.

    "We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season."

    Related: Mercedes F1 tackles Covid-19

    It’s understood Vettel — who last year was overshadowed by the emergence of his new team-mate at Ferrari, Charles Leclerc — had been offered a short-term contract at a reduced salary compared to his previous deals. The German though, whose four world titles acme during his time at Red Bull, emphasised in his announcement that financial considerations played no part in the decision.

    "In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it's vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony,” Vettel stated. “The team and I have realised 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 will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.

    "Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its 'Tifosi' all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years.

    "My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far."

    His comments relating to “reflect on what are our real priorities in life” could well indicate Vettel — who is a family man, and turns 33 in July — is now actively considering retirement, or at least a sabbatical away from the F1.

    Ferrari has yet to make any firm decision on who will replace Vettel at Maranello for 2021, but it’s likely Carlos Sainz could well make the switch from McLaren. If that happens, don’t rule out Daniel Ricciardo them ditching Renault and moving to McLaren which, in 2021, will be poured by Mercedes engines.

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    Jim McGill


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