There had been rumours circling the paddock for several weeks that Sebastian Vettel was ending his five-year long relationship with the famous Italian Formula 1 outfit.
On the 11 May 2020, that bombshell finally dropped with Vettel confirming his split with Ferrari as he claimed, “The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season,” in a statement released earlier today.
The decision taken by Vettel is in light of Ferrari’s future in the form of Charles Leclerc, proving to the team that they should be backing him instead of the German by ruthlessly wrestling control of the outfit and making his mark on the team.
This sudden announcement has practically begun the sports ‘Silly Season’ well in advance, with talks and discussions between constructors, drivers, managers as well as rumours amongst journalists and fans currently breaking the internet.
For many, this decision by Vettel has come as a shock, given the numerous race victories and the driver-constructor relationship that flourished over the last five years but, it was expected as Vettel believed that since Leclerc’s addition to the lineup, he never had the unconditional backing from his dream team.
Who’ll Replace Him
There are a couple options with regards to this, but Ferrari will most obviously be looking for a driver to pair well with the current team favourite and 22-year-old wonder boy, Charles Leclerc.
Starting from the least obvious option…
The controversial rumours of whether Lewis Hamilton will eventually make the shift to Ferrari has been buzzing for a while now. Ever since Hamilton having met with Ferrari chairman John Elkann, there has been much speculation as to whether he would consider a drive at Ferrari. However, given the Mercedes teams dominance in the recent Hybrid era of the sport and Hamilton’s success with the team, it is highly unlikely that he will accept an offer from Ferrari. But it is Formula 1 after all, you never can be too sure.
Sainz has been hailed as a driver who can support and build a team to win races again. When McLaren first signed him on, their glory days with Lewis Hamilton had long since been forgotten and they were very much a mid-tier team. In 2019 they announced an all new driver line-up with rookie Lando Norris and Sainz. Sainz even scoring his first podium towards the latter part of the season. It is very unlikely that the Spanish driver will make the move to Ferrari given the exceptional relationship that exists between ‘meme lord’ Norris and himself. But if the right deal is made there is a chance that Sainz will jump at this opportunity.
Ricciardo has had a very Up and Down career in terms of Formula 1. He showed great potential as a driver at Scuderia Toro Rosso which was his springboard into the sport. Thereafter, he was signed on by RedBull, where he went on to win several races and attempted a fight for the world championship title unfortunately to finish third on two occasions. Later with the arrival of Dutch favourite Max Verstappen, similar to Vettel, Ricciardo felt he had lost the spark that the team and he once shared. He accepted a contract with Renault expecting to make a fight for the title once again. However, with the French outfit struggling to make it past the midfield, Ricciardo had his work cut-out for him. He is extremely eager to win a world championship and there have been rumours that Ferrari may have already approached the Australian to discuss a possible contract. With his present deal with Renault expiring in 2020, this would fit perfectly with Ricciardo’s intentions as a seat with Ferrari will give him a fighting chance to achieve his dream aspiration.
This is my number one choice as who might replace the Vettel at Ferrari. The current number two driver and team mate to Lewis Hamilton might consider the move to Ferrari. Bottas has proven to be an excellent team player during his time at Mercedes, proving that he is comfortable racing as a number two driver in an outfit. Ferrari’s recent experience with pairing two alpha’s in Vettel and Leclerc hadn’t worked out too well for them in the 2019 season; with tension and conflict arising between the drivers. Given that Mercedes weren’t too keen on signing on Bottas for the 2020 season -finalising his contract only at the latest possible second- shows that the relationship there may be going a little sour as well. With his current contract with the ‘Silver Arrows’ expiring at the end of the 2020 season he is perfectly poised to replace Vettel and support Leclerc in his title fight with Ferrari.
By Randev Jayasinha