Sebastian Vettel spoke with Niki Lauda about leaving Ferrari for Mercedes

Sam Cooper
Toto Wolff, Sebastian Vettel walk and talk. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

Sebastian Vettel has revealed he spoke with Niki Lauda about joining Mercedes but ultimately decided to stay with Ferrari.

Despite being the second-most successful German driver in F1, Vettel has only ever driven for one German team, BMW Sauber, and even then it was only in one grand prix.

A move to Mercedes always seemed like a match made in heaven but it never materialised, with Vettel moving from Red Bull to Ferrari and then on to Aston Martin in what would prove to be the final team of his career.

Vettel’s non-move to Mercedes was not through a lack of interest though as he revealed that he spoke with the late Lauda, who served as non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and was instrumental in convincing Lewis Hamilton to join, about the possibility of moving to the Silver Arrows.

“I spoke with Niki halfway through the Ferrari period about joining,” he revealed on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“It would have been a big deal because Lewis was sort of their number one and then I’m not sure whether they would have liked to have us both in the team.

“But I also didn’t have great interest at that time because I was so committed to Ferrari. That was my dream to make that thing work. So you talk to each other but it wasn’t really serious.”

As Vettel mentioned, moving to Mercedes would have allowed him to share a garage with his once great rival Hamilton and F1 fans will never know if it would have produced a friendly rivalry or would have followed the Nico Rosberg path.

“I think it would have been a great challenge,” Vettel said of being Hamilton’s team-mate. “And I think I would have enjoyed that but it just wasn’t meant to be.

“Like I said, my focus was to win with Ferrari and that was my target. I didn’t want to change team and win with Mercedes, if you see what I mean.

“Other than just winning which I really love, it was winning with Ferrari. That was a great goal.

“It just didn’t happen so that’s fine but I think I would have enjoyed racing with Lewis, we get along really well.

“I think our moment was the 2017 Baku Grand Prix, where we had, maybe you can call it nowadays, a misunderstanding.

“It was one of those moments where things didn’t go my way and I was upset and maybe the emotional side did take too much over. But I think actually, that moment was a key moment because it could have made us step away from each other more, or bring us together and it brought us together.

“So I reflect and I did think about what happened and as much as I might have felt in the moment that is not fair, that’s not right and I wanted to show him, I wanted to tell him that, obviously, we’re wearing helmets and it’s hard to communicate. So that was a form of communication.

“But I also did see that it was the wrong form. It was not the right way, it wasn’t sportsman like and not fair, which I admitted afterwards. We talked to each other and I think since that moment we got closer to each other.”

Read more: Farewell Sebastian Vettel – From F1 villain to a much-loved inspiration