Sebastian Vettel Ferrari will leave Ferrari at the end of the season, after both sides have agreed not to renew their contract for the 2021 Formula 1 season.
The news was released on Monday evening in German media, with confirmation from Ferrari on Tuesday. A team statement said it was a joint decision and Vettel said that money was not a defining factor.
As recently as last month, Vettel said he hoped to sign a new contract with the team before the race starts again this year, but negotiations seem to have stopped in the meantime.
"This is a decision taken jointly by us and Sebastian, which both parties think is the best," said Ferrari director Mattia Binotto. "It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian's value as a driver and as a person. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, other than the common and friendly belief that it was time to go our separate ways. our respective goals.
"Sebastian is already part of the history of Scuderia, with his 14 Grand Prix victories, making him the third most successful driver on the team, while he is also the one who scored the most points. In the five years together, he managed to finish in the top three in the drivers 'championship three times, contributing significantly to the team's constant presence in the top three of the constructors' classification.
"On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities that he has demonstrated in these five years, during which we have 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. "
According to Italian media, Vettel received a one-year low-wage contract, which may also have marked him as the team mate's number 2 driver Charles Leclerc, who recently signed a five-year contract with the Italian team.
It was a great honor for me to be your teammate. We had some tense moments on the tracks. Some very good and others that didn't end as we both wanted, but there was always respect, even if it wasn't perceived that way from the outside.
– Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) May 12, 2020Advertisement
The news leaves Vettel facing an uncertain future, as it is unlikely that seats on the main F1 teams will become available in 2021, unless Lewis Hamilton shocks the sport by leaving Mercedes. Vettel, a four-time world champion, said the recent hiatus in racing because of the coronavirus pandemic led him to reflect on what really matters to him in the future.
"My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will end at the end of 2020," said Vettel. "To obtain the best possible results in this sport, it is vital that all parties work in perfect harmony. The team and I realize that there is no longer a common desire to stay together until the end of this season. Financial matters I did not participate in this joint decision. This is not how I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be.
"What has been happening in the past few months has led many of us to reflect on what our true priorities in life are. We need to use our imagination and take a new approach to a situation that has changed. I will take the time myself. I need to reflect on what it really matters when it comes to my future.
"Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope you get all the success you deserve. Finally, I want to thank the entire Ferrari family and, above all, their" tifosi "around the world. , for the support they have given me. over the years. My immediate goal is to end my long stint at Ferrari, hoping to share some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far ".
The news will end Vettel's six-year career at Ferrari at the end of this season, which is due to start on July 5 in Austria. Vettel won 14 races for the team, but failed to increase the four titles won with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013. Initially, he joined Ferrari with the aim of imitating his childhood hero, Michael Schumacher, who won five titles in red. the early 2000s.
Ferrari has yet to announce a replacement for Vettel, but McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo are out of contract at the end of the year and are obvious candidates for the partnership with Leclerc, who will remain in the team until 2024.
Hamilton was linked to Ferrari at the end of last year after meeting company president John Elkann at a social event, but since then suggested that he will remain at Mercedes.