Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2016

Vettel dampens speculation over Mercedes move

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Posted on

| Written by

In the round-up: Sebastian Vettel chooses his words carefully when asked if he could switch to Mercedes next year.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Comment of the day

From the hundreds of entries to last weekend’s Caption Competition, here’s the winner:

Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Yas Marina, 2016

“Nico please, always leave the space!”
Johnny H.

Thanks to all of you who joined in and a special mention to Coldfly F1, Glynh, Julie MacDonald, Mach 1 and Mark Thompson for their great contributions.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Eric!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Lewis Hamilton collected his world championship trophy on this day last year while Max Verstappen picked up a trio accolades:

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

65 comments on “Vettel dampens speculation over Mercedes move”

  1. Always the Bridesmaid – runner up again damn it ;)

    I thought I had it in the bag this time….hehe

    1. I guess you know how Rosberg must have felt the last couple of years. Work hard on it, and maybe you will finally get top spot @mach1. I do hope you don’t feel like stopping to contribute after that though :-)

      1. Ps…

        Don’t retire when you do

  2. I see Mercedes either promoting an up and coming driver or just hiring a journeyman driver for one season. The idea that another team would let them pluck a top driver this late in the year is asinine. There is a reason that nearly all driver contracts with the top teams are done in the summer and early fall and not winter.

    1. One thing that should probably be obvious to everyone but just occurred to me, is the issue is IP. Obviously the big name drivers would be involved in the development of next year’s cars and I do not see any of the big team allowing one of their drivers to join a competitor so late in the game.

    2. They should probably hire a promising young driver, at least younger than Lewis. If their rationale matches mine, their doable shortlist would include:

      – Wherlein
      – Ocon
      – Sainz Jr.
      – Bottas

    3. @dragon86 Logic would dictate that they would promote one of their youngsters, but there’s a problem: they have been driving F1 cars for a little over a year, and for most of that time Wehrlein and Ocon have been in a Manor. Whilst Ocon especially could mature into a real star, slotting one of them into a Mercedes and hoping that they contribute to a world constructor’s championship versus a likely rejuvenated Red Bull is asking a lot.

      @jcost ‘s list is largely accurate in terms of “doable” steals, albeit Sainz is contracted until 2018 so he’s not an option, especially given Red Bull now know what a star he is. For next year, Bottas is Mercedes best hope. He will be perfect at shadowing Hamilton and collecting points, which frankly, is all Mercedes can hope for.

      For 2018, Daniel Ricciardo will be the target. If Mercedes could choose any driver, contracts aside, I am quite sure they would plump for Daniel. A congenial character, hard worker and a very complete act on-track; albeit with a title chance in 2017, prying him away from Red Bull might be challenging. Vettel would be a suitable fallback if Mercedes cannot tempt Daniel, as would Sainz or Vandoorne if the team opts for a younger, cheaper vintage.

      But really, this is a mess, and in quotes from Niki and Toto today, the toll left by the outgoing champion is telling. The fact that Nico cut the cord with absolutely no communication with the team at all increasingly makes it feel like some kind of retaliatory move.

  3. For the sake of making this more interesting, and for the sake of the argument, I’ll say I’m laying a bet that if Mercedes doesn’t go the harder route and hire Alonso or someone close to his caliber, and opt for the easier way of hiring Bottas or someone benign like that (both in terms of pay and intra-team dynamics), they will lose the Constructors’ title to Red Bull. They still might end up winning the Drivers’ crown somehow, but if the guy in the other car isn’t on the level of Hamilton (and Danny and Max for that matter), they’ll end up losing the WCC, since I don’t think they will have as much advantage as they did the last 3 years.

    1. Red Bull, Red Bull

      Bewares of the ides of march.

      Rory still stalks the corridors of Maranello and the 2017 regs are right up his alley.

    2. A driver like Bottas would be the best choice because he is capable enough to bring in solid points, but nt to the extent that he is going to challenge Hamilton too much. Bottas is not political too and follows team orders. Just the right kind of driver to ensure stability and harmony within the team.

      1. and follows team orders

        I wouldn’t be too sure of that one @realstig – he has shown at quite a few occasions already that he was not all too inclined to go along with those in the past few years.

        1. @bascb I do recall Bottas following orders. One that comes to mind is when he was told not to overtake Massa last year in Silverstone, I think it was, but I do not recall an incident where he refused an order.

          1. There were several times even in his rookie season, as well as in 2014 and 2015, not sure aout this year.

      2. Following team orders in the midfield is a different kettle of fish to fighting for a world championship.

        1. Well Nico didn’t have a problem making way for Hamilton in Monaco, even thought that was obviously going to be detrimental to his chances. There are some drivers who have it in their DNA to obey team orders and there are some drivers who just can’t.

          1. Monaco was not a case of Rosberg following team orders to his own detriment. Not making way for Hamilton would have been far worse. Even if he hadn’t let him through Hamilton was going to finish ahead of him so all Rosberg could hope to do would be to stop Hamilton winning and how happy do you think Mercedes would have been with Nico if he had cost them 2 races wins in a row? Rosberg had no choice but to step aside in Monaco.

    3. Bottas is not Alonso but he’s far from benign. Bottas is a very good pair of hands and aggressive enough on Saturdays and Sundays to push Lewis and keep him honest.

      1. Spot on @jcost.

        If Mercedes chose Bottas they’ll have a very, very capable racing driver in that seat. I would wager he would keep Hamilton very honest and that he would pick up a few wins on merit.

        1. Certainly from an interest point of view I would much prefer Bottas to either Werhlein or Ocon.

  4. I find Toto’s comments very funny. At least, I don’t understand them coming from a senior figure in the champion team.

    “It’s not my intention to interfere with Ferrari’s internal issues.”

    “It’s the same thing [with Alonso]: what would Ferrari and McLaren do without Vettel and Alonso in December?”

    “Or Williams without [Valtteri] Bottas? [That] option is the one I like the least.”

    The heck does he care about other teams, really? what kind of statement is that? What is he going to do next then? give Ferrari a bit of advice on the design of their car? He should work to get the best drivers available. If that costs Ferrari or Mclaren dearly, so be it.

    It’ll also be costly to Mercedes, so neither Ferrari, nor McLaren or Williams would avoid negotiations and freely give their top drivers to the rival team just like that. Any driver would love to jump into such a hot seat (Toto’s incoming calls confirming that), regardless of their current contractual situation. And it’d also benefit Mercedes, so whatever happens to the team losing the most of it, tough luck!

    1. @fer-no65 I don’t think he cares about the other teams. He’s just making a point that those teams would not want to be in such a bad position in terms of their drivers, to the point that negotiations with them would be extremely difficult and costly. Could you imagine talks between McLaren or Mercedes for Alonso? It’s expensive to pursue a driver like Alonso as a free agent, let alone when he still has contract years left with McLaren who will be unwilling to part with him.

      I’m of the opinion that Mercedes should just go for a one year stop-gap driver and then make their real moves next year, where the driver market will be much more flexible with drivers knowing that a spot at the Silver Arrows will be open.

      1. Ivan, I agree with your reasoning – it is not a case of caring about the other teams, it is knowing that those other teams, given that they would suddenly find themselves bereft of a leading driver at short notice, are going to fight extremely hard or just point blank refuse to deal with Mercedes altogether.

        Fer no.65 is assuming that those drivers are available to begin with – I suspect that Ferrari and McLaren will have signed the most watertight contracts they could with Vettel and Alonso, whilst there were rumours that, when Ferrari approached Williams with the idea of buying out Bottas’s contract in 2015, Williams simply refused and held Bottas to his side of the contract (something that Ferrari and McLaren could quite easily do themselves).

      2. I think your take on Toto’s words is spot on. It takes two to make a deal, and Toto knows it very well.

      3. If there is one other team he cares about it’s probably Williams. He used to be a major share holder (still is?) and probably has lots of relationships there.

    2. I think it’s the opposite. Toto deliberately mentioning all the name he wants. Alonso, Vettel & Bottas. We can consider it a fair warning.

    3. If we’d take those comments as by their words, just as a thought experiment, that leaves:

      – Sainz, arguably too good for a junior team and blocking the seat for rookies, he’s only still at Toro Rosso because there’s just no space in Red Bull, and as he is too good to be without a seat (and probably better than Bottas). Also proven to be able to play the team game even when the team-mate does not
      – Wehrlein, as Manor would probably be happy to have that seat to sell
      – All those people who have retired recently
      – Felipe Nasr
      – And last but not least my personal wish and in my opinion the best possible outcome for us fans, the most entertaining option: Pastor Maldonado. No matter if he keeps on crashing, or he just drives the whole season like that one day in Barcelona because the Merc allways feels like the Williams did on that one day, it’d be great fun.

      1. Wrong on the account of Sainz @crammond. The only reason that Sainz is still at STR is that Red Bull did not allow him to get out of his contract and go to Renault. In other words, the chance that they will let him go to a direct competitor like Mercedes is to be considered almost not there at all.

        Wehrlein is not confirmed anywhere currently, so he is freely at their disposal. However, he seems to be a bit of a hothead and still needs a bit more experience before they can risk putting him in a winning car. And it might not work well for team work.
        Mass has already confirmed that he is not interested in getting back on the grid. Button is tied into McLaren until 2018, despite not racing for them (so he will not be albe to go anywhere much more than Alonso will be), and off course Rosberg retired, but he is not going to come back :-o

    4. I am probably reading too much into this, but I like Toto’s choice of words, he mentions pretty much any driver that could be of interest and finishes his tough with: “It’s not my intention to interfere with Ferrari’s internal issues. And I don’t even know if Sebastian really has the intention to come to us.”

      Testing the waters maybe? Would Sebastian be their first choice if they were to poach someone?

  5. Im availible if toto wants to give me a ring as well!!! Id do it for minimum wage and am very obedient to what my boss asks!!!

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      5th December 2016, 3:04

      @rick1984 unless you can’t fit in the seat hahaha.

  6. Williams has a top driver that won’t compete with Hamilton too much but still bring in strong second place results to secure the championship, and Williams could use the money from the contract buyout. Also, he has Wolff ties. So my money is on Bottas.

    1. Most probable. Look at Bottas tweet. He already had spiritual sightings. Silver mist & petronas color lining.

      1. True. I didn’t even see that in his tweet until you mentioned it.

      2. Great spot! Can’t help but feel for Wehrlein if he doesn’t get it, being their immediate test driver they’re quick enough to pluck him back from Manor when they need him.

  7. Woo-hoo, COTD winner :) thanks!

  8. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    5th December 2016, 3:05

    Talking about the empty seat, Toto should hire Jackie Steward. They would have two 3WDCs!!! And Jackie could have his chance to prove who’s the best.

  9. I wonder if Andre Loterrer would have been on the cards had Nico’s announcement come earlier.

    It would have been pretty awesome to see Loterrer in a top F1 car.

    1. No way.

  10. Come on Toto, bring back Juan Pablo Montoya!!!

    1. I wonder what Kobayashi or Heidfeld are up to? 😀

    2. How many kilos can Nigel drop until Feb 2017?

  11. Rosberg retiring news is a populist approach, @keithcollantine. We still need a dedicated article of 2016 FIA Prize Giving ;)

  12. SevenFiftySeven
    5th December 2016, 4:22

    Come on, Schumi!!!! Wake up! Wake up! There’s a seat vacant at Mercedes. Someone please tell someone who knows someone who knows someone who know the Schumachers. Tell the Schumachers to play the news of Nico retiring with a seat vacant at Mercedes near his bedside. Maybe it will serve as a placebo to a miraculous recovery. Keep fighting Michael!

    1. + 100

      Amen to that ..

    2. Has anyone noticed how well Mick Schumacher appears to be dealing with the situation? It is the only thing that still gives me some hope that his father could recover to some normality at least

  13. SevenFiftySeven
    5th December 2016, 4:29

    Oh, by the way, I’m also available. The prob is, I’m sure I won’t fit in the car. My CV lol: Cataluniya: Silverstone: Spa: ;).

  14. Yesterday someone mentioned Vergne. He is not contracted to any F1 team (as far as I know) and was comparable to Ricciardo when driving together. Are there any problems that would explain why people do not consider him (like superlicence missing or anything)?

  15. And I don’t even know if Sebastian really has the intention to come to us.

    Is Sebastian a living, breathing race car driver? (at last check, that seemed to be the case)

    Then yes.

    And even if he only used you to extract a proper contract extension from the red team, give the guy a hand. (and hobble Ferrari with an even larger part of their budget going to their drivers)

    1. @proesterchen I think Vettel said what he said hoping it would be interpreted as him ‘ruling himself out of a Ferrari move’. He’s almost certainly going to be a Ferrari driver next year. Headlines about him staying loyal to the team (particularly after such a poor season) rather than sniffing around for a better seat are what he wants.

      But as always when reading his words it’s important to keep in mind what he hasn’t said. He hasn’t said there’s been no contact with Mercedes, he hasn’t said he wouldn’t want the seat and he hasn’t said he won’t drive for them next year (pointing out he has a Ferrari contract is not the same thing). He’s got all the wiggle room he needs in the highly unlikely event he ends up wearing silver next year.

      One thing’s clear: Now is a great time for him to negotiate that contract extension with Ferrari…

      1. I like Vettel, but to be honest I don’t think he wants to be paired with Hamilton, it just doesn’t sound like it could happen.

        Join Mercedes after Hamilton leaves would be more reasonable.

        I remember however Hamilton saying that he would like to have a similar rivalry to Senna and Prost, and he sees Vettel as Prost in that situation.

        Regarding the contract extension, I don’t think he has to be worried about that, even if he finds himself without one, most likely he would be able to get a seat at a top team, there is no need to use the situation as leverage IMO

        1. Where would Vettel land if not Ferrari? RBR is full through 2018, McLaren might have an opening if Fernando doesn’t extend his suffering, but I can’t imagine a scenario that sees McLaren good enough to be an option and Fernando not wanting to take advantage of that. The only other seat is partnering with Hulk at Renault (again, with the suffering), so all other options provide little or no leverage for Seb in his negotiations.

          This opening at Mercedes, and his being a perfect fit for the team at least for 2018 and beyond is that much needed leverage.

          Now it all comes down to how much in love Vettel is with the cavallino rampante. Is it enough to commit to a team that build a worse car this year than last? A team that proved very efficient at throwing away and opportunity that presented itself over the course of this campaign? A head of team who found it prudent to officially dis him just a few months ago on the very topic of his contract extension? And a CEO who despite the less than competitive state of the team has put a budget freeze on a profitable (!) race team?

          Is there anyone out there (who doesn’t bleed Ferrari red) that expects this team to come back in February having found the second+ its currently behind? How about the year after that?

          If not for the emotional weight of Ferrari, this shouldn’t even be a contest. The WDC just vacated his seat, who in their right mind wouldn’t want it?

          1. Things are constantly changing @proesterchem, and McLaren and Renault will probably be contenders in the future, especially now that the tokens systems doesn’t exist anymore and there are plenty more areas where teams can make a difference under the new regulations

            And what is the problem with going back at RBR? They didn’t parted ways in wrong terms, and if they cannot find anymore Max Verstappens I don’t see why he couldn’t be back. Alonso went back to McLaren he look at the way he left. Ricciardo has also expressed his intentations of driving some place else, and if Ferrari finds itself next year with two vacant seats, I would be very surprised if they didn’t tried to poach him (or Verstappen for that matter).

            The second part of your comment, is hard even for a Tifosi not to agree with. They can always find some comfort in the idea of the team changing focus to the new season very early in the year, but that isn’t usually the case with Ferrari

          2. @johnmilk

            I was referring to RBR having contracts with both of their current drivers through at least the end of 2018 (and with Sainz Jr over at TR, too), hence there simply being no open seat for Seb to use as leverage.

          3. I understood that @proesterchen, but it is based on the premise that Vettel needs leverage, which I think he doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong you do make several good points, this is just my point of view in the situation.

            Either way, seats can appear at the end of next year on the top teams, and with drivers moving around RBR might find themselves in a position that could make them go for Vettel.

            And even if Ricciardo and Max are rock solid at RBR who would Ferrari put on Vettel’s seat? Hamilton? That would open up a seat at Mercedes.

            We could be here all day, there a lot of possibilites

            I expect Ferrari to play a huge role in the 2017 silly season

      2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        5th December 2016, 16:39

        Vettel, the man who ran with his tail between his legs once he no longer had an ageing Webber to thrash? The man who has been pushing for an ageing Kimi to remain his teammate? He reputedly blocked having Hamilton as a teammate at RB… I don’t think he would voluntarily go head to head with him now when he is coming off the back of a championship lost through unreliability with the bit between his teeth.

  16. For a guy that has so little self(mouth)-control: I don’t think he can stop himself from biting in a big juicy Mercedes contract if they hang that in front of his nose.

  17. Btw Lewis needs a little bit of challenge or he will quit F1 too.

  18. I love the birthday shout out. For my Birthday wish….. Alonso in a Merc

  19. Sebastian… you had a RBR contract when you switched to Ferrari…

  20. Bottas is going to Mercedes. His “cryptic” tweet says it all.

  21. I would place Bottas in the second Mercedes and move Wehrlein to Williams, that way Manor could hire one rising-star-youngster and sell the other seat. I think that would make everybody happy

  22. What about Perez to Merc?
    FI should be easier to persuade into 2 rookies than proud Wiliams. And Merc would have the opportunity to benchmark both of their juniors in the same, reasonably competitive car. Perez looks like very copable 2nd driver that should ensure good WCC point every weekend.

    Just remember where did you here it first.

  23. I’m intrigued by Lauda feeling angry and ‘betrayed’ by Nico departing as abruptly as he did.
    Certainly it has left them (Mercedes) in a difficult place but perhaps Lauda should reflect on his own departure from Brabham in 1979 at Montreal when he departed after the first practice session.
    Quoted as saying he was ‘Sick of driving round in circles’ was not acceptable, and not very clever as the terrible Alfa Romeo flat 12 was just being replaced by the Ford Cosworth, used by Piquet to great effect.
    The past usually has a habit of biting people on the bum ………..!

Comments are closed.