What’s next for Vettel after Ferrari…

Date published: May 12 2020 - Michelle Foster

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of this year, with the Scuderia confirming the overnight breaking news on Tuesday morning.

Vettel joined Formula 1 in 2007 and the following year won his first grand prix, doing so in a Toro Rosso.

It was clear this lad was something special and Red Bull promoted him to the senior team a year later.

Vettel would go onto win four World titles with Red Bull before swapping to Ferrari.

The latter move hasn’t yielded the success both the 32-year-old and the Scuderia dreamed of with Vettel leaving the team at the end of this season.

So what next for the finger-pointing German?

PlanetF1 looks at his options for a spot on the 2021 grid, if of course he even wants to remain in Formula 1.

Alfa Romeo

When Kimi Raikkonen learned of his Ferrari axing, the Finn walked down the pit lane to find Frederic Vasseur and promptly agreed a two-year deal to race for Alfa Romeo.

But one of the big differences between Raikkonen and Vettel is motivation.

While Raikkonen was content as Vettel’s number two at Ferrari, racing to pick up the pieces for the love of racing, Vettel races to win.

That could explain, at least in part, why the German has four World titles to his name and Raikkonen, an equally talented driver, has just one.

Vettel would never accept racing at the back of the field, or there and thereabouts.

In the two years since Alfa Romeo took over the Sauber team, the team has recorded a best result of fourth at what turned out to be a chaotic conclusion to Brazilian Grand Prix.

Raikkonen was P4 to Antonio Giovinazzi’s fifth, the duo boosted up the order by Vettel’s crash with his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Vettel hit Leclerc, or Leclerc hit Vettel, while fighting over fourth place with the four-time World Champion not willing to concede the position to his team-mate – even though it wasn’t even a podium position.

That’s Vettel. He’s in it to win, not pick up the occasional point.

Mercedes

Oh how we would love it. Vettel and Hamilton at the same team, in the same car, having the same opportunities. It would finally put that argument to rest.

It would also lead to fireworks reminisce of the Senna versus Prost rivalry.

Sadly that is why it won’t happen.

When Hamilton was keen on joining Ferrari back in 2017, he acknowledged at the time that his “dream” move was over when Vettel signed a new three-year deal with the Scuderia.

Hamilton said there was no way he’d team up with Vettel because the Ferrari driver “doesn’t want to be my team-mate”. He did, however, stress that he was “always ready to race against anybody, whoever that is”.

Hamilton stayed at Mercedes and continued with Valtteri Bottas as his team-mate while Ferrari kept Raikkonen as Vettel’s partner before putting Charles Leclerc in the car last season.

The Hamilton-Bottas partnership has been a winner for Mercedes. It has seen the Brackley squad extend its run of championship doubles to six and has put Hamilton on the cusp of equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World titles.

If Hamilton opts to stay at Mercedes for 2021, he’s not going to rock the boat and risk holding the all-time record alone by putting a driver of Vettel’s standing in the other car. That could cost him No8.

The only way Vettel is going to Mercedes is if Hamilton takes his Ferrari seat.

Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan reckons it is already in play.

“Lewis will switch to Ferrari,” he told F1-Insider.com earlier this month. “Only the Italians can still afford his salary and they know that he is worth it.”

Mercedes would need a big-name driver to sit alongside Bottas and Vettel, although the past few seasons haven’t gone according to plan, is still a four-time World Champion.

McLaren / Renault

Both McLaren and Renault reportedly already have offers on the table for Vettel to consider, they are only waiting to see which one of them will need to fill a spot.

According to just about everyone except EJ, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo are the two favourites to replace Vettel at Ferrari.

Sainz, who raced for Toro Rosso and Renault before moving to McLaren where he recorded his maiden F1 podium last season, believes he’s up to the task.

“I am confident in my abilities,” he told Spanish daily AS when asked about the Ferrari rumours.

“Last year I took a very important step and I am capable of doing very good things in a McLaren, in a Ferrari or in a Mercedes.”

Ricciardo, though, believes he’s the right man for the job.

The 30-year-old has already proven himself a race winner with Red Bull, taking seven wins in five seasons, before moving onto Renault.

That move hasn’t yielded the results he had dreamed of and with the Aussie out of contract at the end of this year, he wants a championship-winning car.

“My basic target with this whole journey was not just get into F1. It was to leave a World Champion,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“That is the ultimate goal. The day I stop believing I’m able to get that any more it is the day you’ll probably see me walk away from the sport, but I certainly still believe this can happen.”

Should Ferrari choose Sainz, Vettel is expected to replace him at McLaren, while if the Scuderia opts for Ricciardo, he’ll be heading to Renault.

Neither is a championship-winning option but with McLaren’s switch to Mercedes engines, it could see a podium or three come Vettel’s way.

Despite being a works team, Renault could in fact be the lesser option but it is still one worth regular points and the possibility of stepping onto the podium.

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