Sebastian Vettel to leave Ferrari at end of season

Sebastian Vettel’s future in Formula 1 beyond the end of 2020 has been thrown into doubt after it was announced the German and Ferrari will part ways at the end of the year.

Vettel and Ferrari have been in talks for several months about an extension, with Team Principal Mattia Binotto saying the four-time world champion was his number one choice to race alongside Charles Leclerc next year.

However, they have been unable to agree terms on a new deal, leading to today’s announcement.

“My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020,” said Vettel. “In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony.

“The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be.

“What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.

“Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its “tifosi” all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years.

“My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far.”

Binotto added: “This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person.

Leclerc’s arrival at Ferrari has seen Vettel’s performances come under more scrutiny.

“There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.

“Sebastian is already part of the Scuderia’s history, with his 14 Grands Prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the team, while he is also the one who has scored the most points with us.

“In our five years together, he has finished in the top three of the Drivers’ Championship three times, making a significant contribution to the team’s constant presence in the top three of the Constructors’ classification.

“On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities he has displayed over these five years, during which we shared so many great moments.

“We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe that we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season.”

Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015, stepping into Fernando Alonso’s cockpit, with the sole aim of bringing world championship success back to the Scuderia.

However, while Ferrari at times gave him a car to challenge at the top, they were never able to mount a serious, consistent challenge to world champions Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc joined the team last year and immediately put the pressure on and ultimately came out on top, in terms of championship position, wins and poles, raising questions about Vettel’s position and future at the team.

Ultimately, Vettel and Ferrari couldn’t agree a way forward, making this season – when it eventually gets under way – the German’s last with Ferrari.

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