Ferrari has today announced that Sebastian Vettel will leave the team at the end of the 2020 season in what’s has been called a joint decision.
A statement from Ferrari read:
“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 departure leaves the German’s future in F1 uncertain with the other top teams looking unlikely, he could follow in the footsteps of former team mate Kimi Raikkonen and move to a lower mid-field team or retire from the sport altogether. Although reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has been linked to a Ferrari move for a while which could open up the door at Mercedes.
“What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life”, said Vettel in the statement form Ferrari. “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.”
Vettel joined the Scuderia in 2015 after struggling to be competitive at Red Bull with which he won 4 championships from 2010-2013. In the 5 seasons he has raced at Ferrari he has again struggled to be a serious title contender due to a mix of his own mistakes and failures from the team. 2019 was a particularly disappointing season for Vettel as Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc joined the team and immediately showed pace, winning 2 races to Vettel’s 1 and scoring the most pole positions of any driver as well as almost doubling Vettel’s points haul.
Despite the tension between the two Leclerc paid tribute to Vettel in an Instagram post saying:
“It’s been a huge honor for me to be your team mate. We’ve had some tense moments on tracks. Some very good ones and some others that didn’t end as we both wanted, but there was always respect, even though it wasn’t perceive this way from the outside.
I’ve never learnt so much as I did with you as my teammate.”
An announcement on who will replace Vettel has yet to be made but will likely depend on what happens with 2020 season and whether or it goes ahead or is extended into 2021.