FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

Saward: Don’t Count out Four-Time F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel Just Yet

The trouble for Vettel is that he is a proud man and he wants to be paid what he thinks he is worth, even if he is smart enough to understand that the market has changed and driver salaries in Formula 1 will need to moderate a little in the years ahead. Those who price themselves out of the market will be those who cling to the past.

The trouble for Vettel is that he is a proud man and he wants to be paid what he thinks he is worth, even if he is smart enough to understand that the market has changed and driver salaries in Formula 1 will need to moderate a little in the years ahead. Those who price themselves out of the market will be those who cling to the past.

According to Forbes, Vettel’s salary for 2019 was $40.3 million, behind only that of Lewis Hamilton. Forbes lists Hamilton at $50 million. That same publication lists current Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo’s salary at $27.5 million. Ricciardo, the sport’s third-highest-paid driver, is moving to McLaren in 2021.

The salary will need to be smaller, by necessity. Renault does not have the same kind of money as some of the other teams. Although, it is likely that if team principal Cyril Abiteboul went to the Renault board and asked for a bit more cash to get Vettel, it would probably agree, because having the four-time World Champion would be a great way to promote the brand.

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Sebastian Vettel is leaving Ferrari following the 2020 season after contract talks broke down earlier this week.
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So why would Vettel take a salary cut to drive for a team that has not won a race since 2008 (Fernando Alonso, Japanese Grand Prix)? Good question.

Vettel doesn’t need to be in Formula 1, but I doubt that the passion he has for racing and his belief in himself—as we saw when he fought back from a dark moment at Monza last year to win the race in Singapore—has waned at all.

If he were to retire it would probably be too early. Vettel has been around a long time, sure, as he’s been racing in F1 since 2007. At just 23 in 2010, he became the youngest World Champion in history, and he was just getting started. When he hoisted his fourth title in 2013, he was still but 26. He’s third on the all-time wins list with 53 and 11th on the all-time starts list (240), but he would seem to have plenty of races left in the tank.

It’s difficult to get the impression that Vettel is finished with F1. The fire still burns, even if the new No. 1 at Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, planted a few dents in Vettel’s suit of armor when he outscored Vettel 264-240 in last year’s drivers’ championship as the two Ferrari drivers finished 4-5 in the standings.

Could Vettel possibly score a career comeback at Renault?

First, one must not forget that Vettel won his four World Championships using Renault engines while at Red Bull from 2010-13, so he knows the French firm pretty well. Vettel knows also just what a big empire it is. People tend to forget that until recently Renault and its partner Nissan were fighting to be the world’s biggest car manufacturer with Volkswagen and Toyota. It is fashionable to divide the two, but the reality is that they are tied tightly together and working with one another. Look at this year’s Renault F1 car and on the engine cover one sees the name Infiniti—a Nissan brand.

Changes were made in the staff to make that happen. McLaren understood that being the second Renault team was probably not a great idea and decided to switch to Mercedes engines. And Renault has also brought in engineer Pat Fry from McLaren. Prior to that, Fry was at Ferrari. Vettel has never worked with him, but Fry has a good reputation, which was underlined when he popped up at McLaren and made a big difference.

But is that enough to keep Vettel in the game? Or has he won his last Grand Prix?

Those are questions really only Vettel can answer, although it is quite possible Renault’s Abiteboul already knows the answer to the first.

Source: Autoweek