Sebastian Vettel said he felt compelled to finish the 2020 season with Ferrari because he isn’t a “fan of shortcuts”.
Before the 2020 season got underway Ferrari announced that the four-time World Champion would not be offered a new contract beyond 2020, at the time saying it was a mutual decision.
Vettel would later reveal that he had no say in the matter, with Ferrari then coming clean and admitting Vettel’s version of events was the truth.
Without doubt 2020 also proved to be Vettel’s most difficult year on the track as he slumped to P13 in the Drivers’ Championship, often comfortably adrift of team-mate Charles Leclerc.
And Vettel admitted that thoughts of retiring did come into his mind.
“Since I no longer had a future at Ferrari, the question naturally arose immediately: What are you doing in 2021? And since all the big seats were occupied, I had to think about it for a long time. So of course you don’t rule out retirement,” he told Blick.
“Formula 1 has been the centre of my life for over ten years. But there are also many other and, above all, more important things in life than our sport.
“Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that there is still something in me. And that’s how the contact with the new Aston Martin team came about.”
Vettel did point out that all Ferrari did was tell him his contract wouldn’t be renewed, something he could have instigated from his side also, but admits the “omens” floating around the 2020 campaign were different from that point, a season where Ferrari finished P6 in the Constructors’ Championship, their worst showing since 1980.
“They simply didn’t renew my contract. I could have done the same thing back then,” he explained.
“Of course, from that day on, the omens for the new season were already different from previous years. But even sadder are the performances, which were so bad this year. After all, we didn’t have a competitive car.
“And Ferrari’s 6th place in the World Championship will not go down in history either (laughs).”
Vettel agreed that it would have been a good opportunity for him to have joined Racing Point in 2020 before they become Aston Martin.
The Silverstone outfit narrowly lost out to McLaren in the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, but Vettel said it was only right that he finished the season with Ferrari.
“Yes, sure. But I also knew that I still had to finish my work at Ferrari,” he replied when the question was put to him.
“I’m not a fan of shortcuts. The road simply had to be taken to Abu Dhabi. Even if we had certainly imagined the final [outcome] differently.”
Vettel’s move to Aston Martin was controversial for the fact that it left Sergio Perez without a seat once the curtain fell on the 2020 campaign, despite the Mexican scoring 125 points to finish P4 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Red Bull have stepped in to save the day by signing Perez for 2021 alongside Verstappen, but Vettel said a driver like Perez should never have been left on the sidelines anyway.
“That wasn’t my decision. By the way, I get on very well with Checo,” said Vettel.
“After his victory in Bahrain, we toasted together and even exchanged helmets! I was happy for him. Because the first victory is always special. Like for me in 2008 with Toro Rosso in Monza.
“And Pérez should actually find a new team. Because no one should let a driver like that slip through their fingers.”
Well, Vettel’s old team, Red Bull, have stepped in to save the day.