“My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020,” said Vettel. “In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realized that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices, and it never will be.
“What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.
“Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1, and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its Tifosi all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years. My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far.”
After winning four championships (2010-13) with Red Bull Racing, Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 and has experienced an eventful spell since, collecting 14 wins in 102 races together and finishing runner-up twice (2017, 2018) in the championship.
However, last year saw a regression as the German scored just one win and nine podiums en route to finishing fifth in the championship. The situation was magnified as he finished directly behind teammate Charles Leclerc, who collected two wins and 10 podiums in his first year at Ferrari and, at 22 years old, is regarded as the team’s lead driver after signing a five-year deal over the offseason.
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal, admitted the decision to part ways was difficult.
“This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person,” said Binotto.
“Sebastian is already part of the Scuderia’s history, with his 14 Grands Prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the team, while he is also the one who has scored the most points with us. In our five years together, he has finished in the top three in the drivers’ championship three times, making a significant contribution to the team’s constant presence in the top three of the constructors’ classification.
“On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities he has displayed over these five years, during which we shared so many great moments. We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe that we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season.”
The reality is Ferrari hasn’t had a driver hoist a world championship since Kimi Raikkonen did so in his first stint with the team in 2007. While there was optimism that would change upon Vettel’s arrival, it never materialized.
At 32, Vettel has one final shot to win for the Prancing Horse whenever—if ever—the 2020 season officially gets underway. Beyond this year, though, options for a race seat are limited, leaving open the possibility of retiring.
Vettel sits third all time with 53 Grand Prix wins, behind only Lewis Hamilton (84) and Michael Schumacher (91).