After five years and fourteen victories with Scuderia Ferrari, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel is about to leave the Italian team at the end of this postponed and already shortened F1 season. Not being able to beat Lewis Hamilton and recently getting into one too many crashes with his teammate Charles Leclerc put massive pressure on both the German driver and Ferrari, with Vettel claiming that the financial details of his team’s new offer had nothing to do with his decision:
“My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020. 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 realized 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.
“Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its tifosi all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years. 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.”
Could this mean Vettel intends to retire to spend more time with his family? Sky Sports Formula One commentator and former racer Martin Brundle had this to add to Vettel’s announcement:
After thanking Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto pretty much kept to listing the stats:
“This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person. 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.
“Sebastian is already part of the Scuderia’s history, with his 14 Grands Prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the team, while he is also the one who has scored the most points with us. In our five years together, he has finished in the top three of the Drivers’ Championship three times, making a significant contribution 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 he has displayed over these five years, during which we 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 that we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season.”
Unusual indeed. The 2020 F1 season has yet to begin, with F1 CEO Chase Carey saying this much about their plans:
“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on [the] 3–5 July weekend. September, October, and November would see us race in Eurasia, Asia, and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15–18 races.”
Wherever and whenever it can began, Vettel will be there to show what he can still do driving the number 5 SF1000.
Report by Máté Petrány for hagerty.com
Photos by Ferrari