Is Sebastian Vettel leaving Ferrari after the 2020 F1 season?
Sebastian Vettel has not had a great year in Formula One. The 32-year-old four-time F1 World Champion has not only had a lacklustre season with only one race win to his name, he's also been out performed and how by his much younger 22-year-old teammate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc has had a fairytale first season with the Italian team beating his older and much more experienced teammate not only in terms of wins, pole positions, points but also in a head-to-head battle in qualifying.
In recent comments to Autoweek, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said that Vettel now has the first five races of the 2020 season to either make or break his future at the team.
“We have to see the performance, the way he (Vettel) adapts to the car and his motivation for the future,” said Binotto. “It’s not about whether he makes mistakes or not. It’s really about how he sees his future and how we see our team.
“Ferrari has the advantage that we are very popular among the drivers. We are in a privileged situation. By the beginning of May, roughly around the race in Spain, we want to know where the journey will go in 2021.”
Meanwhile there have been rumours swirling the grid that six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton whose contract also expires in 2020 is in talks with the Italian team.
The BBC reports that Ferrari chief executive officer Louis Carey Camilleri said at a media lunch that Hamilton has had "conversations" with chairman John Elkann.
But things are getting dire for Ferrari who haven't won a championship in 11 years, since Kimi Raikkonen's win in 2007.
Vettel finished fifth in the driver's championship, his lowest finish in years and post the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, he said:
“We didn’t have the year we were hoping for, full stop,” said Vettel. “I think the reasons are clear, the lessons are clear and now it’s up to us to make sure to take them on board. As a team we must perform stronger. As an individual I think I must, I can… do better.
“It wasn’t a great year from my side. I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks because there were a lot of things leading to not a great picture at the end of the year. But I’m the first one to look at myself and, if I’m honest, I know I can do better. That’s for sure the target for next year, to do a step forward.”
So now, it's crunch time for Vettel who needs to fight off Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo all due to be out of contract in 2021, to keep his seat at Ferrari.
Will he won't he? We'll find out in about 100 days when the next season of F1 is due to begin.