Four time world Champion Sebastian Vettel will leave Ferrari after new contract talks between the two parties broke down leaving the German currently without a drive for next season.
12th May 2020
The news that the talks between Vettel and Ferrari had broken down broke over night with a statement from Ferrari this morning, confirmed that the partnership that had been in place since 2015 was at an end.
It's been clear for a few months now that Vettel was the number one choice for Ferrari with contract talks being held about an extension.
Team Principal Mattia Binotto saying: "This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives."
The race to wear red
The race to team-mate Charles Leclerc for 2021 is mainly contested by two drivers: McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jr and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo. Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi also remains an outsider.
Daniel Ricciardo - Now this would be really exciting! Ricciardo is a proven race winner, his race-craft is excellent and he can seize opportunities that other drivers can't. He's still in his prime and eager to be back at the front fighting for wins and championships. If Ferrari want two top, exciting and dynamic drivers, then this is their pairing.
Carlos Sainz Jr - One of the standout drivers of 2019, Carlos Sainz took the opportunity to lead one of McLaren's best season of racing and results since 2014. He's consistent, quick and he's come along way, pushing past several set-backs in his career to get where he is today. He would fill the role of number two at Ferrari very well but he's got what it takes to be winning races and championships.
Antonio Giovinazzi - In his first full season in the sport with Alfa Romeo, whilst partnering Ferrari's last F1 Champion Kimi Raikkonen, Giovinazzi made a lot of mistakes. It's no secret that Ferrari have ploughed a lot of time and money into Giovinazzi's career and they need to assess the validity of placing him alongside Leclerc. He's proven that he is a quick driver and is someone who knows Ferrari inside and out due to the amount of simulator work he's conducted behind the scenes
What does Vettel do now?
So, what are Sebastian Vettel options now that he isn't going to be racing in red.
It is reported that Vettel has had offers from two teams and it's the teams that currently have a potential driver to take his seat at the Scuderia - McLaren and Renault.
With Carlos Sainz Jr a front-runner to replace Vettel at Ferrari, there has been suggestions that McLaren may be up for a swap deal with Vettel driving for them instead if Sainz were to leave.
For McLaren, this is an incredible opportunity. They are on the path and are busy working hard to be competitive and therefore fight at the front of the grid. Many see the new regulations, now pushed back to 2022 because of COVID-19, as a great time for McLaren to get back to winning ways and with the help of an experienced driver like Vettel could be very helpful.
This move for Vettel may resort him to fighting in the mid-field rather than at the front. In the short term, the team may be unable to provide him with a race-winning car with the odd podium being an exception.
The other favourite to take Vettel's seat is Daniel Ricciardo and it's rumoured that Renault may also be up for a swap with the two drivers.
Renault Team boss Cyril Abiteboul has previously once stated he would not rule out making a move for the German.
Renault are also working hard to make their way to the forefront of F1 and an established driver like Vettel would be very useful in making sure that happened. Don't forget, it was Renault power that powered Vettel to his four titles at Red Bull.
Red Bull and Mercedes
Could Vettel return to the team that played a huge part in his four world championships? It seems unlikely now with the team very happy with the line-up of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. There were talks between the two parties after Vettel had a wobble during the first-half of 2018. Would Vettel play second fiddle to Verstappen?
A Vettel/Mercedes partnership isn't that crazy as it was heavily speculated a few years ago. As time went on, this has looked less and less unlikely. Mercedes has both Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas out of contract come the end of this year although Hamilton has firmly stated his intention of staying with the Silver Arrows.
Would it be a shock if Vettel turned round and said that he was calling it quits? Frankly, it wouldn't. After his 2018 title bid fell away, rumours started swirly round the paddock that he was starting to fall out of love with the sport. He's denied it ever since even with being beaten by Leclerc last year. Is this the final curtain for him even after he's driven for a team that his hero, Michael Schumacher, drove for? We shall find out in the coming days....