Sebastian Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of 2020
Sebastian Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of 2020. That’s right, the third most successful Scuderia Ferrari driver in terms of wins will be leaving the team at the end of this year’s Formula 1 season.
A statement from Ferrari says that Ferrari 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”.
Why 2020? Vettel’s contract was scheduled to expire to coincide with major regulation changes in 2021, giving Vettel flexibility if he wanted to move or even retire, or Ferrari the option of choosing someone else to be the future Ferrari star. However, those regulations will now not come into force until 2022 owing to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – forcing teams to design cars that are fundamentally different to the current machines quickly became an unnecessary, expensive burden. Plenty of contracts, however, including Lewis Hamilton’s, expire at the end of 2020.
Sebastian Vettel has said: “In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that 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 myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.
"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.”
It has been all too easy to bash some of Sebastian Vettel’s past performances; mistakes have crept in where they have not for Lewis Hamilton, and it has become apparent that Ferrari’s man-of-the-future is Charles Leclerc, who signed a five year contract extension earlier in 2020. But Sebastian Vettel has managed 14 Grand Prix victories with the team (only Niki Lauda with 15 wins and Michael Schumacher with 72 wins have more) and has finished in the top three of the drivers’ championship for three out the last five years, finishing second in 2017 and 2018. His most recent victory was in Singapore in 2019.
It is what it is, however. The only question that remains is who will take his place? Let silly season begin.