Szafnauer ‘gave Vettel lift to gas station’

Jon Wilde
Otmar Szafnauer (left) and Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel has voiced frustration at how his interactions with F1 personnel turn into stories about his future.

Every greeting the German, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of this season, makes with a bigwig of a rival constructor has generated speculation that he is set to sign for that team.

It happened with Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Helmut Marko in Austria. Then at Silverstone last week, Vettel was spotted exchanging an ‘elbow bump’ with Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll and then seen leaving the circuit in the same car as the Pink Panthers’ team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

Although an announcement that Vettel will move to Aston Martin – currently branded as Racing Point – for 2021 in place of Sergio Perez is rumoured to be a matter of weeks or even days away, the former World Champion continues to insist he has made no decision about his next move, whether it is in or out of the sport.

And he is becoming fed up of how the media put two and two together whenever he happens to exchange a friendly word or gesture with someone from a rival team to Ferrari.

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“Even if I greet in the paddock Lawrence or Christian it becomes a story,” Vettel told reporters at Silverstone on the eve of the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix weekend.

“And it is true I left the circuit with Otmar and you know where we went? A gas station, then he went home and I continued on my way.

“He had a Ferrari Pista, he had to get gas and we left together. I find it a bit embarrassing that you can create a story from such circumstance, but it’s okay.

“Just to clarify…I have known Otmar for a long time and I had also been in his car before but nobody was interested in it long ago.

“I don’t think it’s strange to exchange a chat with someone you’ve known for years, at least it’s not for me.”

Vettel added in a Sky Sports interview: “I also said ‘hi’ to Jenson (Button) like this (elbow bump), but there’s no comments about me joining Sky Sports this year.

“I said ‘hi’ like this to Toto (Wolff) as well, no comments there, so I guess people pick what sort of comments they want to come up with after. I think you know people and you say ‘hi’ to people, it’s not the most uncommon thing.”

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