Sebastian Vettel and Andreas Seidl, the McLaren team boss, certainly have some history and worked together before when they were both at BMW Sauber, Seidl worked there as an engineer alongside a very young Vettel.
So in terms of evidence, the dictionary defines as “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”, and when solid facts are missing, but ‘circumstantial evidence’ and ‘witness statements’ (i.e. quotes in the media) are only available, certainly TJ13 enjoys putting together a case for any possibility in the F1 circus – and for this case, there are some compelling pieces to put together.
According to the Spanish newspaper “Marca“, Vettel is said to have contacted his old acquaintance again in order to inquire about the possibilities of working together in 2021. In times heated by the media like these, when there is excited speculation about the transfer market for 2021, this is, of course, a headline that is making the rounds.
In any case, the participants do not deny the alleged establishment of contact. “We are happy with our two drivers. They are the future for McLaren,” says McLaren team boss Seidl at the request of “Motorsport-Total.com,” but misses the opportunity to clearly deny the “Marca” report when he says:
“We won’t participate in these speculations….” grinning afterwards.
Clearly there has been discussions then.
On the other hand, one hears that the 32-year-old doesn’t get involved in the game of commenting on every rumour individually. In general, media reports about an imminent departure from Ferrari are being constructed. And Vettel’s big dream is still to become world champion with Ferrari. As long as this goal is not reached, a team change is at least not Plan A.
From Vettel’s point of view, nobody denies that the 2019 season did not go according to plan, and former boss of Vettel Dr Helmut Marko has plenty to say about the German driver after Motorsport total, the German publication, put to Marko the question of whether he considers Vettel to have dropped off the top 3 driver rankings in F1.
“Unfortunately, I have to agree with that for this season,” confirms the Red Bull motorsport consultant. “But you still can’t write off Vettel.”
It’s fair to say the Leclerc’s pace was better than many predicted, and Marko probably thinks that too. Indeed Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto also thinks that Leclerc has adjusted better to the difficult 2019 car saying:
“He had our problems a bit better under control. Simply because of his driving style”
However, the line continues to be towed that “Seb is a key driver for us, he is central to our project.“
“He has been part of this team for many years now. He knows the team very well, he has a lot of experience. And he’s four-time World Champion. Such a driver must be a key figure in our project.” says Binotto.
Even if he should lose again against Leclerc in 2020 and his contract expires at the end of the season? Binotto stresses that he is “happy” with the current Ferrari pairing, but: “We have to sit down with Seb and talk so that we understand his plans for the future”.
Rumours at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi that Vettel could end his career immediately, which have been rubbished according to Vettel, have tweaked the ear of Ferrari. No doubt prompting them to put it to Vettel to make plans and let them know.
“We have to see how our strategy develops next year. And we have to look at the performance and how it fits into the car and how it can motivate itself in the future,” says Binotto.
“It’s not about whether he made mistakes or not. It’s about how he sees his future and how we see our driver pairing.”
Which doesn’t sound like Vettel’s full commitment is there anymore – after all, it became known in Abu Dhabi that Ferrari was fishing for Lewis Hamilton and should Lewis actually move to Ferrari, it’s unlikely Vettel would go. Leclerc is their future.
Nevertheless, Binotto continues to play advocate for Vettel by saying:
“He didn’t feel comfortable in the car at the beginning of the season”. In other words the “instability during braking” was one of the main characteristics of the SF90. And “having such a quick teammate certainly gave him a headache.”
“But Seb is very analytical when it comes to getting better. He doesn’t approach such an exercise emotionally, he looks at the data, compares the sectors, studies exactly where he is slower or faster.” says Binotto.
Binotto admits, Vettel was “under a lot of pressure”. But the victory in Singapore with the subsequent lead in Sochi and two further second places was then a psychologically important liberating blow: “He reacted very well in the second half of the season,” praises the Ferrari team boss.
“The victory in Singapore was certainly a key experience for him. Not only the victory itself, but also in terms of trust in the team – because he knew that he can rely on the team to support him when it counts. But I think it was the right decision and the right time to let him win”.
“The fact is that in the second half of the season, when he felt more comfortable in the car, he was very, very fast. If you look at his racing space, he was at a very similar level to Charles. Charles was quicker in qualifying,” says Binotto – he doesn’t choose words that would continue to identify Vettel as Ferrari’s number one anymore.
What is the point of the McLaren rumours? Maranello hasn’t said anything about that yet. Vettel knows that he has no 100% certainty that he will get the Ferrari contract extended. So he has to explore his options. It would be negligent not to talk to Seidl, the boss of a team that is currently advancing. Wolff himself said that he expects McLaren to win some races next year. READ MORE ON THAT HERE
Further, there is a real possibility that McLaren will return to being the works Mercedes team again. READ MORE ON THAT HERE
If Hamilton should snatch the Ferrari cockpit away from him, Mercedes would have a free seat. And if Mercedes gets Max Verstappen (a persistent rumour and likely true if Red Bull Honda fail next year), Vettel could theoretically return to his old friends at Red Bull, if they themselves remain in F1. There are significant rumours to suggest they could pack up and leave should Honda decide not to continue into 2021. It’s worth bookmarking this article here for further reading.
Perhaps more likely is however that McLaren, powered by Mercedes, indeed do sign Vettel for 2021. After all, how many races and Championships has Sainz won, and Vettel might just be a perfect fit for the British team. Number one status in a team potentially capable of winning races with a possible works Mercedes engine.
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