Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz emerge as leading candidates to replace Vettel.
Unlikely that Vettel will secure a seat at a top team, leaving McLaren and Renault as logical options.
In what is bound to be news that will shake up the Formula 1 drivers’ market, it has been confirmed that four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel will be parting ways with Ferrari at the end of this year. As per a statement released by the team, both parties jointly decided to not extend Vettel's contract beyond the 2020 F1 season.
Shedding some light on the decision, Vettel said: "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. 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."
"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,” added Mattia Binotto, Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari.
Vettel had been in the process of negotiating a new contract with Ferrari, as his current three-year deal expires at the end of 2020. But the confirmation of this news brings an end to the German racer's six-year stint with Ferrari. While the partnership did yield 14 race wins, and Vettel even finished as runner-up twice in the championship, it was also in the spotlight due to some high-profile errors from the German driver in recent seasons. The Maranello-based team has already locked in Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc till 2024.
As per reports, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz are at the front of the line to replace Vettel at Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes does run out at the end of this year, but it seems unlikely that Vettel will be able to bag a seat at the top team. With Red Bull already having a long-term agreement with star driver Max Verstappen in place, this would leave Renault and McLaren as the two logical options for Vettel. Of course, there is also the possibility that Vettel could decide to retire from Formula 1 altogether and pursue racing in other championships.
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