At the 2018 Formula 1 German Grand Prix, Vettel was in full control of his race when he went off the track and abandoned his Ferrari against the tyre wall.
When the four-time world champion returned to the Scuderia’s garage the expression on his face was one of dismay. One of the seminal moments of the break-up.
Having endured a 2019 season in which he felt as if he had gone against the grain of his team. The Scuderia was lining up around his young team-mate, flamboyant and refreshing. The choice of the German was the experience at the heart of the team. The Ferrari was unreliable and unstable.
The choice to be a team player turned against him. Vettel had, however, cautiously entered into discussions with the Italian team in November 2019. The announcement of Charles Leclerc’s extension at the start of the winter was a first warning.
Behind the scenes, Ferrari left the Vettel issue dragging on, believing that before making a hasty decision it was necessary to try out the new car. Finally towards the end of February, Ferrari agreed to extend his relationship with Vettel on the condition of a one-season contract and a massive reduction in his salary (17 million instead of 35 million).
It was time for Vettel to think things over. There were not many options. A few weeks later, Vettel accepted the salary conditions, but wanted a two-season contract (2021/2022). Silence from the Scuderia, which at the end of April presented a new proposal accepting the extension of two seasons, but with a further reduction of 5 million euros from the previous proposal, i.e. 12 million euros.
Beyond the reduction in salary and the duration of the contract, it was the introduction of the principle of sporting equality with Leclerc which was the basis of the break-up.
At Ferrari, the principle of sporting equality is a policy that has been in place since 2007. The principle was adopted by Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali, and it ended the Schumacher era with Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 world championship title and second place in the drivers’ championship for Felipe Massa in 2008.
When he arrived in 2015, Sébastian Vettel knew the rules, but also knew that with Raikkonen at the end of his career, he had no difficulties and was preferred (as we saw in 2018). With the arrival of the young Charles Leclerc, the principle had not changed, except that the four-time world champion had forgotten the emotional aspect of the Scuderia.
Throughout the 2019 season, the two drivers were treated the same, but the rules had changed for Vettel. He had understood that Maranello had granted a preferential clause in the principle of fairness to his young team-mate. Without having informed him beforehand.
Vettel then finally understood that Ferrari no longer wanted him.
Updated: McLaren insiders say they want Vettel
Unable to reach an agreement to extend their association, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel have consequently decided to separate. The 2020 season will be the German driver’s last at the wheel of the Scuderia.
Arriving in 2015 with four-time World Champion status, Sebastian Vettel had the heavy task of relaunching Ferrari, which had been deprived of the title since 2007 and the crowning of Kimi Räikkönen. And what Fernando Alonso nearly achieved, the German never got…… READ MORE ON THIS STORY