The time was 11:30pm on Monday 11 May 2020. About to go to sleep, I decided to check my phone one last time, opting to look on Twitter. Ah, what a mistake that was.
Various German websites (including AMuS and BILD) have made the shock announcement that Sebastian Vettel will not be extending his contract with Ferrari, stating that him and the team could not agree on a contract. BILD have stated that the news will be officially broken on the morning of Tuesday 12 May.
Vettel has been driving for the Prancing Horse since 2015 after a spout of success at Red Bull, winning championships from 2010-2013. Naturally, such news leads to rumours about what Vettel will do next. This author believes that Vettel will likely retire from Formula 1 altogether. The four-time world champion has always been a family man, and it would surprise no one if he took time to be with his family after his stint at Ferrari.
If he does not want to retire yet, there have already been links made between him and other teams, particularly McLaren, if Carlos Sainz makes the move to Ferrari. It seems unlikely that Vettel will return to Red Bull, especially considering that Red Bull have expressed no interest in offering him a seat, and it is likely that Vettel is not interested in pairing with Max Verstappen.
Vettel’s surprise departure (which I must add, has not been officially confirmed at time of writing) begs the other question, who will take his seat at Ferrari?
Sainz has been already linked with the seat, and his departure from McLaren could open up the seat to Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo had talks with McLaren before he left Red Bull to join Renault so this move for the Australian is certainly not out of the question. Lewis Hamilton’s contract is also up for possible renewal at the end of 2020, and although a move to Ferrari is unlikely for the world champion, it is not impossible.
It was unexpected for the tradition of silly season to begin so early, and with such a shock announcement too, and this is certainly one that will keep the gossip train going until we receive clarity on where Vettel is going and who will replace him.
The time is 1:06am on Tuesday 12 May. Even though such a big announcement was made at an unusually late time, I’m going to bed.