The team of four times formula one Champion an Italian Sebastian Vettel announced today that Vettel will leave Ferrari at the end of the year on a mutual consent.
The 32-year-old German driver joined Ferrari in 2015 to replace Fernando Alonso, but was unable to add to his world titles at Red Bull from 2010-13. Observers expected him to break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 titles. Now that is within reach of world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has six.
Hamilton’s rise with Mercedes has been mirrored by Vettel’s gradual slide at Ferrari. Of Vettel’s 53 career wins, 14 came with Ferrari, including only one last year. “In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony,” Vettel said on Tuesday. “The team and I have realized that there is no longer a common desire to stay together.”
Vettel’s existing contract earns him $40 million per year, but he said finances played no part in the mutual decision. “That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices,” he said. Vettel had ample chances to win Ferrari’s first world title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. The team’s last constructors’ title was in 2006.
Vettel led the championship at the halfway stage in 2017 and 2018, but a series of clumsy mistakes — unbefitting a driver of his vast experience — proved costly. At Singapore in 2017, he launched off pole position and tried to cut off Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, causing a multi-car crash which Hamilton avoided to win the GP and reclaim the championship lead.
At the German GP in 2018, Vettel was set to win at Hockenheim. Holding a comfortable lead and with Hamilton some distance behind, Vettel misjudged a routine turn and crashed into the barriers, again gifting Hamilton a win and the championship momentum.
But it remains uncertain if the season will start amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the first 10 races already postponed or canceled.