Put on a “back-burner” by Ferrari in favour of the new kid, Bernie Ecclestone says Sebastian Vettel should never have left Red Bull.
Vettel walked away from Red Bull at the end of the 2014 season after losing the World title to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
He swapped Red Bull for Ferrari.
That move, though, never yielded the success either party dreamed of.
Vettel has twice finished runner-up in the championship while last year he matched his worst finish since leaving Toro Rosso with a P5 in the standings.
It was only the second time in his F1 career that the German was beaten by a team-mate, this time Ferrari’s new lad Charles Leclerc.
While Vette was critised by the media, both in Italy and around the world, for every mistake he made, Leclerc was heralded as the future of Ferrari.
So much so that while he was handed a long-term deal that runs until the end of 2024, Vettel has reportedly only been offered a one-year contract for 2021.
Asked what he felt went wrong for Vettel last year, Ecclestone told Autocar: “We’ve seen it before: all of a sudden the kid from nowhere who nobody has heard of comes along and performs, and everyone fell in love with him at Ferrari.
“I’m close to Sebastian, but we don’t talk about things like this. But I’m guessing he feels a little bit that he has been put on the back-burner.”
With Vettel out of contract at the end of this year, Ecclestone, who counts himself among Vettel’s friends, says a lot will depend on how the German performs in the opening few races of the championship.
He added: “Well, he’s not in an easy position. His contract runs out at the end of this year.
“If this year he could show his capabilities, he should stay with Ferrari.
“If not, he was very happy at Red Bull, because they loved him…”
Loved him so much that Ecclestone feels leaving Red Bull was a mistake.
“On reflection, no [he should not have left],” he said.
“But I think most drivers would like to drive for Ferrari. I think financially he thought it was a good thing to do.”