During this pandemic we find ourselves in sports news to get our teeth into has been hard to come by. Of course, it will pick up with the football returning soon but this is usually a very active period of the year in the world of sports. Most European football leagues are reaching its climax, GAA and Hurling county games are right around the corner and plenty of Tennis and Golf tournaments going down just to name a few talking points taken away from sports fans recently.
However, if some juicy news is what you’re after look no further than the world of Formula 1. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has recently announced that he will leave his team Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season after five years. It’s a decision that has been mutual agreed on by both parties with Vettell saying in a statement “The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season.”
Carlos Sainz has signed a two-year deal to join Ferrari from McLaren as his replacement for the 2021 season with Daniel Ricciardo jumping from Renault to McLaren to be the replacement of Sainz at McLaren for the 2021 season. All men will stay at their current teams for now and will all make their respective moves when preparations for the 2021 season begin.
So, plenty of news coming in over the past number of days with loose ends and deals getting tied up relatively quickly. With Sebastian Vettel being the only one left from this situation without any solid plans announced. It gets you thinking what is next for one of the biggest names in modern Formula 1 and how did all of this come about? Vettel made it known that when he joined Ferrari that the goal was to win his fifth world championship wearing the famous red of Ferrari. Unfortunately for him it has yet to happen with a 3rd place finish in 2015, 4th place finish in 2016, back to back 2nd place finishes and most recently a 5th place finish in the 2019 season.
It’s being a disappointing ride for both parties especially in 2017 and 2018 when Vettel led the championship for large spells of both seasons. He couldn’t quite get the job done and was criticised by many for mistakes he made on the track. He signed with them back in 2015 from his former team Red Bull where Vettel won four world times in a row. He came in as the main man on the most famous team in Formula 1 to follow in the footsteps of his idol Michael Schumacher and brig success back to Ferrari along with their first world champion since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
With the frustration and lack of championships came some in house fighting most publicly between Vettel and 22-year-old teammate Charles Leclerc who is on the rise in the sport. Tensions seemed to be building between the pair when they clashed in Brazil towards the end of the 2019 season and before that during qualification in Monza. This was a combination of neither driver winning a race during the first 12 races of the 2019 season which was made worse for Vettel in Montreal when he lost his victory with a time penalty from the stewards.
That decision in Canada seemed to drop the head of Vettel and Leclerc went on a good run during the summer months of the season winning two races. Leclerc would even win more races and out point Vettel for the season. Vettel seemed to realise he was no longer the main man. This was no longer just his team that were solely focused on him winning a championship. You could sense that he even believed Charles Leclerc was now the number one driver in the team. The tension seems to be evident in the statements that Vettel released about the split.
For example, one statement reads “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 realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season.”The fact that he had to mention perfect harmony suggest it wasn’t there coming into this season and it was very apparent to fans last season.
The timing for Vettel joining Ferrari wasn’t ideal and during another era you would imagine he would be very dominate with Ferrari. During his spell Ferrari have had two team bosses in Maurizio Arrivabene and now Mattia Binotto during a time of transition for the team. Tragically their chairman Sergio Marchionne passed away in 2018 too and losing the safety net and experience of Kimi Raikkonen the same year didn’t make his job easy at all.
Unlike many issues in modern sport this one doesn’t seem to be getting fixed by throwing money at the problem. Once again if we can refer to a statement released by Vettel on the split and speculation that he turned down a reduced offer he says “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.” Now while retirement could be a possibility and is hinted at in the statement above another piece in that statement is certainly interesting to look at.
When he mentions a new approach, it could be construed that he is talking about a new approach to his career. His latest approach was to enter a team like Ferrari set up for him to walk in and win world championships. Perhaps he wants to take the approach of going into a middle of the pack team and help them develop themselves into a team ready to challenge for championships. Maybe he wants that to be a part of his legacy that he went in and gave a certain team the shot in the arm that it needed.
It also can’t be chalked down to bad performances this season as the 2020 season hasn’t got going yet thanks to Covid – 19. It really does seem to boil down to Vettel not being happy with his status and position with Ferrari and going forward doesn’t see himself playing second fiddle to anyone there. It has just been a frustrating time for him at Ferrari and it all seemed to come to a head with this decision.
So, what’s next for Sebastian Vettel? He will be a driver for Ferrari for the 2020 season if it starts back on the 5th of July as planned. He sees out this season with Ferrari and giving the circumstances you would imagine he won’t be fulfilling his dream of winning a world championship with Ferrari. The intrigue comes already for next season and his next move.
No disrespect but surly he won’t be dropping down to the likes of Williams, Racing Point, AlphaTauri or Haas and they probably can’t afford him. It would also be madness to think he is going to Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen seems to be the number one driver at Alfa Romeo for now. The same can be said for his former team Red Bull who seem to be happy going forward with the hotly anticipated Max Verstappen. Red Bull even came out and said it wouldn’t work with two alfa males like Vettel and Verstappen on the same team. It would make for a similar experience to when Vettel and Mark Webber were teammates at Red Bull which was a constant headache for the team despite the success.
That leaves McLaren and Renault left with honestly these two being the most likely places you could see Vettel end up in the 2021 season if he decides to continue his career. McLaren has won world championships in the past most recently in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton. They have Lando Norris there too who is an excellent young driver with plenty of potential for someone aged 20. Vettel could almost take him under his wing if he wanted. Norris would be happy to sit under him and learn like what he is doing under current teammate Carlos Sainz. With plenty of hard work by all he could help bring back success at Renault and push them up the championship leader board. Both teams need a number one driver for the 2021 season and had a middle of the pack finish in the 2019 season and probably could afford him. It really all depends on how competitive Vettel wants to be and how much being the main man at a team means to him.
Ultimately this could be it for Vettel he could just retire after the 2020 season. Its unlikely with the heavy rumours that he is having serious conversations with at least one team, but it could happen. He’s 32 now which isn’t the oldest for an F1 driver, but he would most likely have to drop to a team further down the grid. With the season currently delayed he does have plenty of time to think about his future.
It’s a shame that it hasn’t worked out for Vettel at Ferrari because when he arrived it seemed like a match made in heaven. It will be looked back as a failure if nothing comes out of the 2020 season and for such a stubborn and goal driver person like Vettel that will hurt. Both him and Ferrari said from day one that the dream was to see him win a world championship in the famous red of Ferrari and it will deeply hurt both that it never happened. He has won 14 races with Ferrari so far and challenged for titles, but it just came at a time when Mercedes are so dominate.
It would be a shame to see him leave the sport after such a disappointing run with Ferrari unless something unexpected comes from this season. He dominated with four in a row at the start of the 2010s and still holds name value in the sport and would certainly have a lot to offer to someone like McLaren and Renault looking to plug the gap on the grid.