Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel’s former boss Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has suggested that the German may make a move to Mercedes in 2018.
Out of his three-season contract, Vettel in currently in his second season, meaning that he will come to the end of his contract at the end of the 2017 racing season.
Although he had a positive start with Ferrari, Vettel has not won a race so far this year and his only fifth in the Drivers’ Championship behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, teammate Kimi Raikkonen and former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
“I can imagine that in 2018 Seb will switch to Mercedes if he doesn’t start making progress with Ferrari,” Horner reported.
“I know from experience that he has to feel good in order to perform well. And I’m not sure whether he likes Sergio Marchionne’s pressure. I have the feeling that Seb is a bit rattled.”
According to Italian reports, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has demanded that Ferrari needs to return to the winners’ enclosure. The fact that the Maranello-based team hasn’t won a World Championship since 2007 he describes as a “tragedy”. Admittedly, Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has said that Ferrari “cannot fail” at the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix, taking place this weekend.
Looking at the current driver line-up at Mercedes, 2015 World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s contract with the team continues until the end of 2018, whereas Championship leader Nico Rosberg’s ends at the end of the current racing season.
It has already been confirmed that Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen will be retained for 2017, to the surprise of some, seen by some as a move to keep Vettel happy and ensure harmony within the team, however speculation about this choice has intensified since the disappointing weekend of the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, where the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship has closed to six points. An explanation which has been offered about why Ferrari did choose to keep Raikkonen was to wait until Hamilton became available.
However, throughout their racing careers in Formula 1, Hamilton and Vettel have come close to being teammates in Red Bull, after Hamilton enquired about a available seat in 2011, which Horner did not let him have, as he could not imagine having the pair as teammates.
“At the time it would have been impossible to accommodate Lewis and Sebastian in the team, and obviously we went on to achieve a huge amount with Seb,” Horner spoke about the matter in March.
“I’d be amazed to ever see the two of them sitting in the same team. From a team point of view as well as it would be very difficult to envisage that scenario. It could be very, very divisive. You’ve always got one who is elated and one who is p***** off.”
Will Vettel make the move to Mercedes, or even be offered a contract with them? For as long as Raikkonen is in Ferrari, Vettel is likely to stay, due to the pair getting on so well, but after Raikkonen leaves, I reckon that Vettel will likely make the move, if offered a contract. I see it being more unlikely that Hamilton will move to Ferrari, unless he isn’t offered a seat by anyone else, however by the time he will become available to Ferrari, he will be coming to the end of his career in F1, so might want to stay with Mercedes until the end.