A new development regarding Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and his potential options for the 2021 Formula 1 season cannot be ignored.
Ferrari and four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel confirmed earlier this week that the 2020 season will be their sixth and final season together, as the 32-year-old German is set to leave the team once the season ends.
Ferrari have not yet officially confirmed who Vettel’s replacement will be next year, although all signs point to current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had also been in the mix, with Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as well as Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi seen as longshots.
What also hasn’t been confirmed is what Vettel’s future holds. Will he be back in Formula 1 next year, and if so, with which team? If not, will the 53-time Grand Prix winner retire?
One team principal has called the confirmation of Vettel’s pending departure a development that he “cannot ignore”, and that is Toto Wolff of Mercedes.
Mercedes have won each of the last six driver and constructor championships, becoming the first team in Formula 1 history to do so. Both Hamilton and Bottas are in contract years this year, so the team have two open seats for 2021.
Here is what Wolff had to say about Vettel when speaking to Germany’s dpa press agency.
“Sebastian is a great driver, with a great personality and an asset to any Formula 1 team. With a view to the future, we are primarily committed to loyalty to our current Mercedes drivers, but of course we cannot ignore this development.”
Wolff had hinted of Mercedes signing the German “asset” in the past, which wouldn’t be the first time the Silver Arrows have brought on a multi-time German world champion after a stint with the Scuderia. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher un-retired from Formula 1 in 2010 to driver for Mercedes for three seasons before retiring for a second and final time.
In fact, even before Vettel and Ferrari confirmed that they will be cutting ties after the 2020 season, Ralf Schumacher, Michael’s brother, stated that Mercedes is Vettel’s only option for next year, should he leave Ferrari.
Now we know that he will be leaving Ferrari, and now we know that Wolff is not ignoring him as a potential option.
Driving for Mercedes would give Vettel the opportunity to drive a car in which he knows he can win at least another world championship, especially with the introduction of the new cars having been pushed back from 2021 to 2022 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
While both Hamilton and Bottas have been rumored to stay put, the confirmed availability of Vettel will force Mercedes to look at all of their options before making any decisions that are set in stone.
Will Sebastian Vettel make the move to Mercedes next year, and if so, will he replace Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas? If not, will the 2020 season be his final season in Formula 1?