Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto says the effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic prompted a re-think that led to the decision not to offer Sebastian Vettel’s exit.
Ferrari indicated pre-season that Vettel was its first option for 2021 but in May the parties confirmed that they will split at the end of the campaign.
In the announcement it was stated to be a joint decision but on Thursday Vettel revealed that he received a call from Binotto confirming that he would not be offered a new contract.
Speaking on Friday Binotto explained that “certainly we have always said to him during the winter time privately and publicly that he would have been our first choice, which I confirm.
“It’s normal that during winter time lots of drivers asked if there was an opportunity to drive for Ferrari, but that didn’t change our position, Seb was our first choice.
“What happened since then? I think the virus, the pandemic situation, which changed the entire world, not only motorsport, but [also] Formula 1.
“The budget cap has been changed, it is lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from ‘21 to ‘22 which was somehow important for us, the cars which have been almost frozen for ‘20 and ‘21, so the entire situation has changed.
“Even the season has not started, so there was no opportunity even for Sebastian to be back on track to prove how much he was really motivated to drive for Ferrari, which has been somehow unfortunate for him.”
Binotto expressed understanding that Vettel felt surprised by the snub.
“So during the shutdown as Ferrari we had to reconsider eventually our position, we took our decision, it was our decision, that is our responsibility, and we communicated to him,” he said.
“I heard that he was surprised, which somehow I remember if he was surprised I would say yes certainly, I understand it, I think that it is pretty normal to be surprised.
“I think that while he accepted our decision even today I can say he is not fully happy with it which I can say something which is normal, and obvious.”