Ecclestone says Vettel will drive for Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM)  Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday 18 April 2010.

Sebastian Vettel with Bernie Ecclestone

Feb.2 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has fueled speculation about Sebastian Vettel’s future by predicting a switch to Ferrari for the new world champion.

The F1 chief executive is famously close to 23-year-old Vettel, who at Valencia on Tuesday worked hard to ease the rumours about his Red Bull contract and links to Ferrari and Mercedes.

“Yes, Sebastian will drive for Ferrari one day,” Ecclestone told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The 80-year-old Briton denied that his prediction was merely to appeal to the newspaper’s Italian readers.

“No, I really think so,” he insisted. “Ferrari is really something special — it’s like an opera singer who wants to sing in the best and biggest theatre.”

Team boss Christian Horner said on Tuesday that he hopes Red Bull and Vettel stay together for “years to come”, but Vettel did not want to look too far ahead.

“If you’re asked where you see yourself in five or ten years then for all of us it’s a difficult question,” he told reporters.

It has been reported that if Red Bull finishes outside the top three this year, he will be free to switch to another team.

Horner refused to confirm those reports, but Michael Schumacher told a German newspaper this week that Mercedes would be mad not to consider an approach.

“Firmly, there are no negotiations in place whatsoever,” insisted the German marque’s Norbert Haug. “What will happen in a couple of years’ time? Who knows.”