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F1 legend’s brutal reality check for Vettel

Motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart has urged former Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel to retire from the sport at the end of the 2020 season, while also giving Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren the tick of approval.

Vettel is currently without a drive for next year, having already announced he will leave Ferrari at the end of this season.

His options to remain on the grid, at least in a competitive car, appear limited, with Mercedes apparently having ruled out an approach, while a return to his former team Red Bull is considered unlikely.

That leaves a midfield team like Renault as the best option, with the hope the team can take a giant leap forward when the 2022 rules come into effect.

Stewart, who won the world title in 1969, 1971 and 1973, told Wide World of Sports that Vettel’s best option is to walk away.

“I think he should retire,” he said.

“I think Vettel went slightly off the boil, I don’t think the real Vettel has been there for the last 18 months.

“He’s been at the top end for a long time. It doesn’t matter who you are, there comes a time when you should retire.”

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. (Wayne Taylor/The Age)

Vettel, who won four straight world titles between 2010-2013, was eclipsed in 2019 by new Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, with tensions between the two reaching boiling point in the second half of the season.

The fact that Ferrari then rewarded Leclerc with a five-year deal that will take him through until the 2024 season shows exactly where the Scuderia’s priorities now lie.

According to Stewart, Vettel, who turns 33 next week, still has a future around the sport.

“Sebastian’s had a fantastic career, he’s a very nice man, very well mannered,” he said.

Sir Jackie Stewart with Sebastian Vettel. (Getty)

“He’s made a great deal of money. In my day motor racing wasn’t as rich as it is now, so for me I made a lot of money after I was a racing driver. I’ve had a contract with Rolex for 53 years, I’ve been with Moet Chandon for 52 years.  

“But if he wants to, he is the perfect person to represent major multi-national corporations. He speaks well, he’s well mannered.

“He’ll have to do something else with his life. I think he should stay within motorsport, where he’s well recognised.

“He could do that better than anyone else.”

Stewart also gave Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren the thumbs up, after the Australian’s disappointing spell with Renault.

Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault for McLaren in 2021. (Getty)

The 30-year-old failed to record a podium in 2019, and times from pre-season testing this year aren’t pointing to a significant change in fortunes.

“I think that’s a good move. I like Daniel very much as a driver. I like him as a friend, but also a lot as a driver,” Stewart said.

“Mercedes is so dominant at the present time, they’ve got more money than anyone else, and they’re very well managed.

“To beat the Mercedes team at the present time is no easy matter.

“McLaren’s got a lot of experience at winning, so I certainly hope for Daniel’s sake that he can be in a competitive situation.”

Despite finding himself stuck in the midfield with Renault, Stewart understands why the Australian needed to leave Red Bull.

“The problem at Red Bull was that Max Verstappen suddenly came along and became the number one driver,” Stewart said.

“He was so fast. Verstappen was everybody’s favourite, so Daniel no doubt felt he wasn’t going to be the number one driver in that team, whereas he was number one at Renault.

“But Renault haven’t done as good a job as he would want, so he saw the opportunity at McLaren and took it.

“I think he’s done the right thing.”

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