The future of the 4-time German Formula 1 World Champion for 2021 is yet to be written, but it certainly appears that an extension of a year for a significantly reduced wage packet is most likely the short term outcome.
This is the proposal made by Ferrari to the German champion for next season, so really it is up to Vettel to decide his own fate at this point, but if ever there was an indicator as to how Ferrari value Vettel now, it is most likely obvious to the German by the relatively meagre total on his pay packet.
As we well know at the end of this season, many “top” drivers will expire and there could be a real domino effect if one of them decides to change his mind.
As we well know, at the end of this season, many “top” drivers will expire and there could be a real domino effect if one of them decides to change his mind. Among them is Sebastian Vettel. The German has been driving for Ferrari since 2015 and, after having had a “comfortable” teammate like Kimi Raikkonen for many years, last season he had to deal with the fervent exuberance of the new Ferrari driver.
Charles Leclerc showed, right from the start, that he could give a multiple champion a hard time and have his say for the title. What’s more, the Monegasque man is protected by a contract until 2024, the result of Ferrari’s willingness to bet on him in the years to come.
The German has always dreamed of winning the title with the Maranello squad and was counting on this beginning of the season to prove his worth to the team one last time, that was until Corona struck.
Ferrari, instead, took advantage of the break imposed by the Federation to advance a downward renewal to the German. A renewal TJ13 believes Vettel initially rejected toward the end of February during winter testing. Indeed we were told by insiders that a press conference was due to be undertaken with Mattia Binotto, the Ferrari team boss, and Sebastian Vettel. This never came to fruition.
Perhaps Ferrari taking advantage of the enforced break period could be a smart move since it puts the team in a situation of strength, but in the meantime, it is already thinking about the future post-Vettel.
Should Vettel leave, perhaps the top of Ferrari’s wish list would be Lewis Hamilton. The British driver is starting to look away from Formula 1 but will no doubt want to try and secure yet another Championship but away from Mercedes. This theory was very much debated and mostly debunked, apart from the recent rumour circulated that Mercedes boss and Hamilton’s closest advocate in the team, Toto Wolff, could well be looking to a different future with Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin.
Indeed it seems that Wolff is seriously considering his options by taking a senior role within the Aston Martin brand. TJ13 must stress that at this point, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Racing Point team that will become Aston Martin Racing in 2021.
But should Wolff leave Mercedes around then, Hamilton might start looking at his options away from Mercedes.
The second scenario is the one represented by Daniel Ricciardo, former Red Bull and now Renault driver, who is arguably at the height of maturity and could be an excellent “arrow” to flank Leclerc to aim for the title. But would he consider the role to be yet another bridesmaid’s position, similar to the one he left at Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
The third possibility would be the internal route with the Ferrari Driver Accademy. The system has churned out over the years many talented young drivers such as Leclerc and, at the moment, on the grid in Alfa Romeo we have our Antonio Giovinazzi who, if he makes the leap in quality this year, could accept a “second” role in Ferrari next season.
This would open the doors of F1 to other young people like Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman, currently in Formula 2, who would take the vacant seat in the team left by the Apulian driver.
Who knows, maybe at the end in Maranello they will turn to a surprise choice: there is a free Fernando Alonso who would immediately return with a competitive car. Indeed stranger things have happened.