Sebastian Vettel is to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season with negotiations over a contract extension believed to have broken down between the two parties.
Initial rumblings of a breakdown in contract negotiations have emerged from the likes of the BBC’s Andrew Benson but an official announcement from the Ferrari camp is expected soon.
Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 after winning four consecutive championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013. The German made it his sole mission to win another championship in the famous red overalls, emulating childhood hero Michael Schumacher.
Unfortunately for Vettel, he was unable to live up to his high expectations unless he and Ferrari can put an end to the ‘Mercedes Era’.
Although the exact reasons for the breakdown are currently unknown, it is believed that Ferrari offered the 32 year-old a reduced salary and a shorter contract than desired.
Now with Charles Leclerc already holding a lucrative Ferrari contract until 2024, we can’t rule out that Vettel may have been intimidated by the youngster who has settled in so naturally and is swiftly moulding the Scuderia around himself.
Perhaps the elephant in the room is that speculation around Vettel’s future has been lingering for some time now. Having come so close to the title and be let down by driver error in 2017 and 2018, calls for his departure grew with time. 2019 seemed to be an eye-opener when Vettel’s performances could be directly compared to the “new-wave” in F1 and there is no doubt Ferrari saw things the same way as the fans.
With his contract at Ferrari to run out at the end of the year, it is unclear what lies ahead for Vettel. We gather that the German currently has offers on the table from both Renault and McLaren which further fuels rumours that Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniel Ricciardo are the hottest contenders to fill the seat at Ferrari.
His former home, Red Bull, have meanwhile said they are not looking to pair another star driver with Max Verstappen but it was unlikely that such a partnership would have ever transpired given the fort that the Dutchman has built himself and Vettel’s previous experiences with Ricciardo and now Leclerc.
Lewis Hamilton has also dreamed of a move to Ferrari in the past but with his position at Mercedes so firmly established, it’s hard to see such a move come into fruition.
But where next for Vettel? A love triangle seems to be forming rapidly between Ferrari, Renault and McLaren. Should Ricciardo make the step up to Ferrari, the departure would free up a pretty budget that may take the German’s fancy but would the endearment gained from helping develop a rising McLaren be more to Vettel’s taste? Out of the bidding war could lay Alfa Romeo where the tug of love that Kimi inspires could tempt Sebastian before retirement…
As far as other options go, there aren’t any. Yet. But there is a possibility that Vettel chooses to not continue in the sport and make a retreat to family life in Switzerland.