Germany’s Sebastian Vettel’s future in Formula 1 beyond 2020 has been thrown into doubt after it was announced on Tuesday that he will leave Ferrari at the end of the season.
“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,” Ferrari said in a statement.
Vettel had last month said he expected to sign a new contract with the team before racing resumes later this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, but talks appear to have stalled in the meantime.
“My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020,” said Vettel.
“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. 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,” he added.
Vettel has won 14 races for Ferrari but failed to add to the four titles he won with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013. He had initially joined Ferrari with the aim of emulating his childhood hero, Michael Schumacher, who won five titles in red in the early 2000s.
“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,” said Vettel.
Mattia Binotto, Managing Director Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal, said: “This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person.”
“There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives,” he added.