Sebastian Vettel’s time at Ferrari is set to come to an end after the 2020 season, the team confirming the news on Tuesday.
The German superstar, a four-time F1 champion, saw contract negotiations with the team stall with both sides then agreeing to part ways once his current contract expires.
Ferrari released a statement confirming their contract with Vettel was coming to an end.
“Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and Sebastian Vettel have jointly decided not to extend the current contract covering Sebastian’s services as a driver with the team, beyond its current expiry date of the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season” the statement read.
The bombshell news is set to shake up the entire F1 drivers market with the position at Ferrari opening the door for a potential Lewis Hamilton shift to the famous red or even see Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo partner up with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari once his own Renault deal expires at season’s end.
Both Hamilton and Ricciardo will be out of contract ahead of the 2021 season.
A driver expected to potentially take the seat alongside Leclerc is current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz. Which could then see Ricciardo shift to McLaren, a team he held serious talks with in 2018 before opting to join Renault.
It is a huge U-turn from Vettel’s comments last month when he spoke about finalising a new three-year deal. Vettel had a huge fallout with the Maranello-based team last season when he was outclassed by Charles Leclerc.
The 22-year-old, who won the GP3 title in 2016 and the Formula 2 title in 2017, had an impressive debut season at Ferrari, winning the team’s home GP at Monza.
While Leclerc is the team’s new poster boy, Vettel’s form plunged and the 32-year-old is now searching for a new seat for 2021.
In December, Ferrari openly admitted they had spoken with Hamilton, the six-time world champion.
Hamilton has since played down suggestions he wants to leave Mercedes. However, his own future still hangs in the balance.
The Brit had stressed that his new contract was not about money and that he was committed to the Silver Arrows to be part of their “legacy” until 2039.
But his future is also connected to Mercedes’ motorsport boss Toto Wolff.
Wolff’s contract is also due to expire in December and his position within the team is unknown, as he has strengthened his financial ties with Aston Martin, who will take over Racing Point in 2021.
Should Hamilton be concerned that Wolff would leave his role at Mercedes, he could in turn decide to join Ferrari in one last hurrah in a glittering F1 career.
Italian journalist Leo Turrini says the contract offers for Vettel have been received from Renault and McLaren, who will potentially be looking to replace Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz respectively.
“I know that Vettel has some contract offers from Renault and McLaren,” Turrini said to Sky Italia, “but I don’t know much he is interested in them. We have to see what Seb will answer.
“If Seb declines, I think Ferrari would go after Carlos Sainz.”
– with Ben Hunt, The Sun