“The clear objective is to find a package that suits me,” says Vettel ahead of Ferrari exit; Ferrari pessimistic about chances in 2020’s opening races; Watch Austrian GP on Sky F1 this weekend
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 02/07/20 11:09pm
Sebastian Vettel has insisted he wants to remain in Formula 1 next season – but will only do so with a team that can match his ambitions.
Vettel, the four-time champion, was at the centre at one of the biggest stories of F1’s enforced delay as it was confirmed in May that he would be leaving Ferrari once his current deal expires at the end of 2020.
But while reports have questioned whether Vettel may retire, the 32-year-old is adamant that he is on the lookout for a new team.
“The clear objective is to find a package that suits me,” Vettel told Sky in Germany ahead of the season-opening Austrian GP.
“I’ve been around a long time in this sport and I’m very interested in achieving more.”
Vettel has been linked with a move to Mercedes, F1’s leading team who have yet to sign either Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas up for 2021 and refuse to close the door to bringing Vettel in.
Renault would also appear an option for Vettel, although his comments shed doubt on whether he would be willing to race lower down the grid.
“If [achieving more] is not possible then I’m not too interested in other things,” Vettel admitted.
“The motivation has always been the performance on track and not the external things, just to be on track and travelling around the world, making money. Those things have never been the source of my motivation.
“That’s still valid for next season, so therefore it remains to be seen. At the moment I don’t have a contract. It’s good to get the season on the go and I think the next weeks and months we’ll be giving an answer to that.”
Vettel’s comments followed his revelation to the written press that Ferrari never offered him a contract to stay beyond the 2020 season.
“It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from [team principal] Mattia [Binotto] when he told me that there was no further intention for the team to continue,” Vettel told reporters.
“We never got into any discussions, there was never an offer on the table and therefore there was no sticking point.”
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz is replacing him for F1 2021.
Will Vettel be a team player in final Ferrari season?
Speaking in a press conference which saw drivers sitting far apart, and wearing masks, Vettel was adamant that he would continue to play the team game at Ferrari should they give him any orders.
Although he would expect the same from team-mate Charles Leclerc.
“I’ve always tried to integrate inside a team, as much as you want your own results you’re driving for a team as well,” Vettel said.
“Should the situation arise and make perfect sense than you expect both drivers to help each other out. I don’t think that has anything to do with the fact my contract expires and I’m going to leave the team.
“But at the same time you’re racing for yourself, I’m not trying to make Charles’ life easier on the track and wave him by. We have been fighting on track in the past and we will continue to do so.”
Ferrari ’99 per cent sure’ they will struggle in Austria
Earlier this week Ferrari, who appeared to be behind both Mercedes and Red Bull in pre-season testing back in February, revealed that they would be working on a “significant change of direction” in their car’s development.
But the updates Ferrari are bringing won’t be ready until the third race of the season, in Hungary.
“I think after the test in Barcelona it was clear that we were not where we wanted to be,” admitted both Vettel and Leclerc at Spielberg.
And Leclerc added: “I think it’s going to be a very challenging season for us. It’s definitely not going to be easy.
“We still have this question mark and we still need to wait for qualifying to be absolutely sure of what we say, even though we are 99 per cent sure we will be struggling more than last year.”
Vettel stated: “I think everyone in the factory is working flat-out to bring everything we can to the track as soon as possible, so we’ll have an upgrade for Hungary and not for here.
“It will be interesting to see where we are, to get an answer on that and then we have to take it from there. Hungary is only two weeks away. We have been on a very tight schedule since the factory was able to restart again.”
The Formula 1 season begins on Friday on Sky Sports F1 with the Austrian GP. Sunday’s race starts at 2.10pm. Find out more & subscribe.