Sebastian Vettel is set to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season according to multiple sources.
The four-time World Champion had been negotiating a new deal with the Italian manufacturer, but talks have reportedly ended without an agreement and Vettel has taken the decision to quit the team after six years.
Reports circulated in Italian media that Ferrari had asked Vettel to accept a one-year extension to his current contract at a greatly reduced salary, after he was overshadowed by newcomer Charles Leclerc, who outscored his far more experienced team-mate by 24 points last year.
According to multiple sources including Germany’s Bild and Auto Motor und Sport, those discussions have ended with no deal, meaning Vettel will exit the team, which could be announced as early as Tuesday.
Vettel’s Ferrari switch came after he was overshadowed again by a newcomer in Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull, with a 74-point difference in Ricciardo’s first season with the senior team.
Vettel’s career looks to be repeating itself after relative success with Ferrari having finished runner-up twice, but he has failed to deliver a championship and now looks set to walk away from the sport altogether unless a competitive seat opens up elsewhere.
What now for Vettel and Ferrari?
Vettel’s future looks uncertain with the only attractive seat likely to be Mercedes, though that would require Lewis Hamilton to quit, as it’s highly unlikely a Vettel-Hamilton pairing would even be considered by bosses at Mercedes, who are quite happy with Valtteri Bottas acting as ‘number two’.
But could a swap be on the cards? With Hamilton joining Ferrari – something he has often spoken about before backtracking. He is out of contract at the end of 2020, as is Toto Wolff. Could the all-mighty duo be heading to Maranello?
If Vettel opts to retire, then there are a couple of candidates for the second seat at Ferrari to drive alongside future superstar Leclerc. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz is one, as is Daniel Ricciardo, who longs for a top drive after a disappointing switch to Renault which looks unlikely to bear fruit anytime soon. Both are out of contract this year too.