Will four-time champion be on the grid in 2021? Recapping who has ruled Vettel out, who are still linked, and what has been said
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 15/07/20 9:49am
Sebastian Vettel has been clear since his Ferrari exit was confirmed: He still feels he has plenty to give in Formula 1, and wants to find a team for 2021 which will allow him to compete at the highest level.
But despite talking candidly and optimistically about his options prior to the Styrian GP – in particular the seats at Red Bull and Racing Point – some of Vettel’s transfer avenues seemingly closed last weekend.
Will the four-time world champion still be on the grid next season? We recap what has been said by teams, and Vettel’s dwindling options…
Who have distanced themselves from Vettel?
Red Bull have given him a ‘definite no’
When asked about reports that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz wanted to ‘bring him home’, Vettel spoke glowingly about his former team. He confirmed he was still in talks with the team bosses there, said they have a “winning car” and revealed he would say “yes” if offered a drive for 2021.
Red Bull, however, promptly insisted that wouldn’t happen.
“We didn’t expect him to be on the market this year and our commitment is to our existing drivers,” Christian Horner told Sky F1 on Friday. “We think we’ve got a great pairing in Max (Verstappen) and in Alex (Albon).”
Asked if it was a definite no to Vettel, Horner replied: “That is a definite no. Sebastian is aware of that.”
Racing Point flattered, but say both drivers have long contracts
The Racing Point team, who will become Aston Martin next season and have lofty ambitions, have been mooted as an option for Vettel – particularly after the German admitted they had made a “very strong impression” with their 2020 car, and that he knows “some members of the team quite well”.
BILD in Germany go as far to say that a deal could be concluded quickly.
But, publicly at least, Racing Point have rebuked any talk of a 2021 swoop.
“I know that people like to think, ‘here’s a team on the rise and Sebastian doesn’t have a drive’, so they put two and two together,” Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer told Sky F1.
“[Our drivers are] contracted. Sergio [Perez] we announced last year to a three-year deal and Lance [Stroll] has a long-term contract as well.”
Vettel had talks with Renault, but they signed Alonso
Not “concrete enough” or “real”, but Vettel did admit that he had held talks with Renault about 2021. Whether he would have accepted a seat there we’ll never know, as last week the team announced Fernando Alonso – another multi world champion – as Esteban Ocon’s 2021 partner.
And who are a long shot for 2021?
With both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out of contract, Mercedes refuse to completely shut the door on Vettel – but have frequently made it clear that they will give priority to their current drivers.
That includes the aforementioned 2020 pair – and Bottas has reportedly already agreed a new deal – as well as Esteban Ocon and George Russell, who came through the driver programme and are on the grid this year with Renault and Williams respectively.
“I do not want to write Sebastian off, but we are very happy with our drivers,” Toto Wolff told Sky in Germany last week.
What are Vettel’s other options?
Discounting Ferrari, and McLaren, who have signed Daniel Ricciardo as Carlos Sainz’s replacement, there are only four teams left on the grid with spots open for Vettel.
Haas are the team who have been most vocal about a move, but even Gunther Steiner doubts he would be able to lure Seb.
“Vettel is a four-time world champion. Does he really want to work with a smaller team?,” the Haas team principal told German media in Austria.
“What does he want to do with his life? I don’t know. If he wants to do something with us, we are happy to have a good relationship.”
A return to AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso), meanwhile, would certainly be romantic given they provided Vettel with his first F1 win over a decade ago, but is also extremely unlikely due to their current stature.
And that’s true for Alfa Romeo and Williams, too.
Vettel’s decision could well come down to taking a sabbatical, or retiring altogether.
“Everything is an option at the moment: Carry on, have a break, or retire,” he said last week.
“It’s not a secret that I’m competitive, I have achieved so much in this sport and I’m interested in achieving more, not just taking part.”
Source : Sky Sports