Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Vettel “surprised” Ferrari chose not to extend his contract

2020 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel says he was surprised to learn from team principal Mattia Binotto that Ferrari had decided not to extend his contract beyond the end of the year.

The four-times champion’s impending departure from the team was announced in May. According to Vettel, Ferrari did not formally offer him terms to drive for them again in the 2021 F1 season.

“It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call by Mattia when he told me that there was no further intention from the team to continue,” said Vettel.

“We never got into any discussions. There was never an offer on the table and therefore there was no sticking point.”

Vettel has not confirmed where he might go next season and said he’s “not really having any” talks about his future yet.

“I’m looking forward, obviously I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future.

“I have a very competitive nature. I’ve achieved a lot in the sport and I’m motivated and willing to achieve more. To do so I think I need the right package, the right people around me.

“So that’s what I’m looking out for at the moment. If the right opportunity should arise then I think it is quite clear. If that’s not the case then I will probably have to look out for something else.”

“If the right thing comes together and comes up and I’m willing to to continue, then I feel I have much more to give,” he added.

However he indicated he would not be prepared to take a sabbatical from the sport with the intention of returning later.

“I am of the conviction that if you are prepared to, let’s say, shut the door, then you should be prepared to shut that door and not shut it and expect it to open again, if you see what I mean.

“So I think you have to be aware of the decision that you are making at the time. And that’s why also I’m not rushing into anything and I think now it’s good to get the season on the go but the next weeks and months will probably bring some more clarity.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

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44 comments on “Vettel “surprised” Ferrari chose not to extend his contract”

  1. Well, I am certainly looking forward to hearing more straightforward answers to questions from Vettel this year. And I hope he really turns this into a motivator to give us the best of his skills and convincingly beat his teammate and win races this year.

    1. If being made the de facto number one and having priority over his teammate, who was forced to move over for him earlier in the season, weren’t big enough advantages for Seb to beat Leclerc, it isn’t too realistic to expect him to beat a Ferrari favored Leclerc who will know the 2020 car as well as Seb from day one (whereas Leclerc had no input in the development of the 2019 car and needed to learn it).

  2. If that’s exactly what he said, I’m sure Ferrari will have a lot of PR damage limitations to do this year.

    I thought Alonso had learned that lesson in name of everyone. Don’t pull the plug when you’re leaving! Others are watching! I’m sure Vettel must have a lot of interesting things to say, but that may sound as a threat to new prospect teams.

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      2nd July 2020, 17:42

      Is life so soft and fragile that you think Vettel said something in that article he shouldn’t have?

      1. I don’t understand this comment either. He didn’t say anything bad or wrong about Ferrari.

        1. @f1mre @canadianjosh I mean he’s telling the truth, not the pasteurized silk smooth version that tends to be the norm.
          When Alonso spoke out about the GP2 engine, he was telling the truth. When he spoke about Ferrari not getting the title because the team was always missing something, he was telling the truth.
          But that usually does not go well with the team’s marketing guys.
          I think you understand the comments, but thanks for letting me explain it better.

          1. I still don’t understand your comment. Vettel is saying he was surprised he didn’t get an offer for 2021, how is this damaging the Ferrari brand?

  3. Cornelius Rowbarton
    2nd July 2020, 16:54

    I’m flabbergasted by this, how can he be surprised? As a Ferrari fan (since early 90s) he is the first driver I’ve struggled to warm to, starting with Mexico ’16 with his radio comments about Charlie and confirmed at Baku the next year. Additionally the amount of mistakes he has made is unprecedented for a multiple World Champion in my opinion.

    1. Even when his actions were far more embarassing for the MaFIA who take pride in heritage of team he was defended by Loudmouth President.

  4. So that’s why he said after the announcement was made that ““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.”

    Those were strong words, not the typical “X is leaving Y after this season”. Something had happened behind the scenes, surely. So now we know it wasn’t as reported back then that Ferrari had offered Vettel a renewal with a paycut. They didn’t want him in 2021 from the start…

    1. Yeah, only Seb first realised that seconds after hearing it from Ferrari …

      Pretty stunning really @fer-no65

  5. I don’t think it’s that surprising really. In Australia Vettel was made to be the “priority” by Mattia and Seb underperformed while making mistakes a 4 time champion shouldn’t be making. It became clear Leclerc is the team’s future and Vettel was causing too much friction.

    1. I think similarly. Sebastian is their highest paid driver and should have gotten more WDC points than Charles unaided, instead he needed the team to assist him to get what he did, and it came at the expense of points to their best driver and to what the team could have achieved. Also, he threw a massive tantrum after the Stewards deemed he cheated at the Canadian GP when he took a short cut across the grass, and nearly crashed into Lewis Hamilton’s car in the process. Actions taken included walking through the Mercedes garage uninvited and changing the car place finish signs so the sign in front of his car was for first place.
      I don’t know if this was the primary reason for him not being invited to offer new terms for a contract, but when you add it to his needing “assistance” in a race then really his being replaced without even being offered a contract shouldn’t surprise anyone.

  6. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    2nd July 2020, 17:55

    I think its a shame and I still think Ferrari themselves are more to blame for their inability to clinch a title than any one driver. They couldn’t do it with Massa, Alonso, Vettel or Raikkonen’s second stint and none of those drivers are poor. Ferrari have been generally outclassed technologically by Mercedes and operationally by Red Bull – it doesn’t matter who drives the car and now they seem to be sliding backwards than charging forwards.

    Compared to his time at Red Bull Vettel seemed uneasy. Prone to larger mistakes, easier to provoke and unhappy with team choices. It’s a shame, because I think Vettel can achieve a lot more in F1, but he obviously will need a superior environment. Maybe he’ll find that if he goes to Renault, or Racing Point, or possibly Mercedes? It would be a shame to lose him.

    1. @rocketpanda How was that any different from his Red Bull days though? Back then also made way to many mistakes. people like to pretend Button only won that 2009 title because of the car domination, but reality is that Vettel crashed out of the points in 3 of the first 6 races. In 2010 he was dubbed “crash kid” due to all his crashes. He also had plently of issues with the team if they tried to treat Webber fairly. Actually even when they tried to pull one over on Webber in Turkey he messed it up.

      He only was more stable after Webber was made the #2 driver and the team was fully put behind Vettel after the 2010 season. The only way he really performs is in the fastest car, starting from pole with no threats from either his teammate or an other competitor.

      What are Ferrari to do? They need someone to actually bring the car home without spinning off every time there is some opposition (Bahrain, Canada). Or taking out his own team mate just because he dares pass him.

      2017, 2018 were titles Ferrari knows they should have won. Also in 2019 they had much more chance than the meager results they scored would suggest.

      Ferrari had the car to win in 2019: Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria, Russia, Japan, Mexico. Giving them potentially 10 wins in total and Mercedes only 9. It could have been a very close fight for the championship, but instead their drivers ended up in P4 and P5.

      1. Typical argumentation of a person who tries to paint everyone more incompetent than they actually are. I’m sure Ferrari missed out on 2017 title with a title winning car, after all, they were dominating Mercedes so much after winning at downforce dependent tracks only. And all those 2019 races one after another…have you realized that Ferrari was slower than Mercedes even in the races they’ve won, which means Spa, Monza, Montreal (technically), and their prospects of victory in Baku, Japan and Mexico lasted until the first corner at worst, first stint at best? They certainly binned it in Austria and Russia, but overall, Mercedes was faster throughout the whole season – but kind of amusing to see their fans playing surprised Pikachu over their clear advantage.

        1. The last 3 years Ferrari have been cars that were capable of competing for the title and each time they’ve thrown away points through driver error and poor strategy. Vettel will have had 6 years and on the evidence of last year he was not going to deliver the goods anytime soon so cutting their losses was the smart move.

          The Ferrari was the faster car for most races last season and despite them not always having the Mercedes race pace, their top speed advantage meant they were rarely passed by overtake on track under the same strategy conditions. They chose to go for straight line speed and ultimately it didn’t pay off enough because they couldn’t lock out the front row to safe guard their lead driver from the undercut often enough.

          It easy to say Mercedes were better but the fact is it was closer than the points showed last year and the difference was Mercedes and Hamilton maximised all bar one opportunity. I doubt Vettel and Ferrari did the same more than a handful of times.

  7. He should have left Ferrari a long time ago.

    1. Are you saying that because Vettel is too good for Ferrari or Ferrari is too good for Vettel? Vettel has made some mistakes recently but I’ve always seen Ferrari as unsporting, operationally incompetent and under performing given their resources, so I could go either way on this.

      1. In my opinion Vettel should have left Ferrari for Mercedes after Rosberg’s retirement.

  8. Ferrari’s decision to part ways with Vettel happened in Interlagos 2019, with a few laps to go, when he deliberately and totally unnecessarily moved his car onto LeClerc path during his overtaking maneuver, creating the contact and dual DNF. It became clear he would not be a clean/honest team mate.

    Just like Ricciardo’s decision to leave RBR happened at Baku 2018 when he and Max collided at the end of the straight, after Horner failing to tell Max, who was slower than Ricciardo at the race, to ease off.

    Just like Lewis deciding to part ways with McLaren in Singapore after his gearbox cost him a win. It just took a call from Niki Lauda to convince him to move to Mercedes.

    Some moments are very critical in the path of a driver. Vettel is full of bad moments in his career.

    1. 4 WDC’s….not bad!!

      1. Considering the type of driver vettel is, I think 4 titles are pretty bad! In any case for one who can’t stand schumacher, making it about the titles is odd, if vettel is not bad schumacher must be great, doesn’t fit your schumacher comments!

        1. I don’t make it about numbers of titles, except on occasions such as I saw fit to comment on, like the one above from svianna that makes it sound like all SV has had is bad moments. Thought I should remind him of a reality. As to MS? Talk about your bad moments throughout a career…his dwarf SV’s by a long shot.

          In general, with the exception of drivers like MS for the way they conducted themselves on the track, I honour even the WDCs who ‘only’ achieved one, for even having one puts a driver in an extremely exclusive group.

          1. I’m not a Schumacher fan and agree he had quite a few dubious incidents but he frankly never did some of the types of under pressure errors that Vettel has done. I can’t recall him ever bottling it and binning his car in a race from the lead particularly, where as there are a few examples of Vettel doing the same.

          2. @slowmo Just off the top of my head, I can think of Spa 1998 and Monaco 2004 where he crashed out from the lead (one under a safety car as well).

          3. @Mashiat
            I guess you were just joking OR much worse you were deliberately trying to deceive the less knowledgeable people here.

            In Spa 1998 he was taken out by Coulthard. Years later DC admitted fault.

            In Monaco 2004 he was taken out by Montoya who deliberately brake tested Schu behind the safety car. It was reprehensible driving by Montoya.

          4. Admiral Vint
            3rd July 2020, 8:21

            @slowmo Canada 1999

          5. Was Canada a trip to the champion wall, which was aptly named given how many hit it…

  9. Ultimately, Vettel is just another driver that Ferrari chewed up and spat out. The same will happen to Le Clerk in just the same way as it happened with Prost, Raikonnen, Massa, Alonso, Alesi and to some extent, Schumacher.

    They’re like a passionate, psychopathic wife – amazing in the moment but, ultimately, they just destroy themselves and take as many possible people with them.

    1. Le Clerk


  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    3rd July 2020, 1:08

    If it’s true and I doubt Vettel would lie about that, then Ferrari was extremely disrespectful towards Vettel. I hope he can repay them on track and make them realize that it was a mistake. I’m sure that he will be hungier than ever to prove them wrong.

    1. @freelittlebirds I’m not sure how Ferrari were disrespectful. What should they have done, given him a contract offer they had no intention of actually signing?

  11. Another puppet in its muzzle…

  12. I think most of us had high hopes when Seb went to Ferrari, along with fears that, like Alonso and others before him, Ferrari would conspire to deliver something that was “almost but not quite” good enough to help him to another WDC.

    I still don’t believe that a good driver turns in to a bad one, so whilst I’m probably in the minority, it’s my belief that for a large amount of his time there, Seb was having to drive his cars just on or just beyond the edge. The result, predictably was that all too often, the rear let go and he spun or crashed out.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in 2021 and beyond. I for one would love Seb to still be around and to be able to relax and enjoy his driving without the pressure of wearing red. I suspect he’ll surprise a few who think he lacks skill.

    1. @dbradock
      “It’s my belief that for a large amount of his time there, Seb was having to drive his cars just on or just beyond the edge.” Fairly certain this is true for almost every single driver on the grid. Vettel didn’t have it any harder than the Red Bull or midfield drivers in relation to having to drive on the edge.

    2. @dbradock

      No one is forcing Vettel to drive a certain way. Every driver gets to choose when to take what risks. Top drivers like Hamilton can drive very fast while not taking that much risk, while lesser skilled drivers have to take more risks to go at the same or a lesser pace. See Maldonado, who could be quite fast, but only by taking so much risks that he got in a ton of incidents.

      I think that the issue is truly that Seb is just not a top tier driver, so without a superior car, he just can’t compete with the best drivers while taking the same level of risk. He could drive within his ability, but then he would be more like a Bottas, who doesn’t have the skill of Hamilton, but who fairly reliably brings the car home.

  13. Ferrari didn’t make Vettel spin over and over and over again. They didn’t beach Sebastian in the gravel in Hockenheim while he was in the lead. The guy had chances to win the title and blew it. Then he was slower than his teammate who was supposed to be his #2 last year.

    1. Hockenheim: Ferrari let him stuck behind Raikkonen for double digit laps even though he was on a different strategy and clearly faster. Of course they didnt beach him in the gravel, but strategywise they did everything to sabotage their own driver (like so often)

  14. His words “am of the conviction that if you are prepared to, let’s say, shut the door, then you should be prepared to shut that door and not shut it and expect it to open again, if you see what I mean.” is also telling us he is not going back to Red Bull.

    1. I think he’s saying if he takes a sabbatical, he can’t expect to return.

  15. When the guy starts talking about “the right package” with so few options on the table, It is clear he is retiring this tear.

  16. I think looking at what Binotto has said there’s room to read between the lines. There’s a cost cap coming in even though drivers salaries aren’t involved Ferrari maybe thinking that if they don’t have to pay Seb $30m a season that $30m could help them finance a section of their Indy car division (if they do indeed decide to set one up) and not have to find extra money to do so.

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