Sebastian Vettel leaving Ferrari next season raises the question, what’s in store for the future?
“Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in”- once said the four time Formula-1 World Champion, Sebastian Vettel. The German driver, however seems to have pressed pause on his Formula-1 career and escape on his team Scuderia Ferrari for 2021. Is it really the beginning of the end of Vettel’s métier? Well, for that, we have to first understand the force that is Sebastian Vettel.
The man is a true brute German who means business!
Starting his F1 career in 2006 by luck (or by accident) when Robert Kubica, the then incumbent driver for BMW Sauber injured himself at the Canadian Grand Prix. BMW turned to a young 18 year old Vettel, a budding talent at the time to replace Kubica at the United States Grand Prix. From that race on, just like his cars, Vettel’s career was on full throttle. In the years that came, Vettel would become the youngest world champion; have 120 podium finishes with a whopping 53 victories spanning 3 F1 Teams over 12 years.
Vettel constantly tries to break his own limits.
For a driver who received his first penalty literally 10 seconds into his F1 career, testing the limits comes innately. A good example of this was the 2011 Chinese Grand prix. A young Vettel was raging for a podium around the Shanghai International Circuit when his tire degradation took a toll on his car. Coupled with his inability to communicate with the team because of a broken radio, Vettel knew he had to do this himself. A mistake here, on the penultimate lap would prove detrimental to his race. The German kept up his pace wearing the tires down to their absolute limit before finishing 2nd, 5 seconds behind competitor, Lewis Hamilton. Some said it was a miracle he even finished the race.
Not to mention his limits with teams. When Vettel became the 2nd defending champion not to win a single race in the year 2014, he did not take it in stride. Car reliability problems in the RedBull RB10 coupled with him not being comfortable with that year’s Pirelli tires, which led him to call it quits on his 5 year relationship with Red Bull Racing and sign a contract with Scuderia Ferrari, which brings us to now.
Is it really over for Vettel?
Well, when it comes to Formula 1, there is no true binary answer. The 2020 Ferrari car, the SF1000 has proved to be an underpowered car compared to smaller teams like Racing point and RedBull. At this point, Vettel’s career can go multiple ways. He could take a break from F1 and stay out of the 2021 season although that seems unlikely given recent reports of him looking for a new F1 team. Racing history has shown that a returning driver usually lacks his former lustre, illustrated by the careers of great drivers like Micheal Schumacher and Robert Kubica. Although, that hasn't stopped 2 time world champion Fernando Alonso from making his comeback to F1 next season.
If Vettel is signing with a new team, it would be easy to rule out the big two- Mercedes and Ferrari; Mercedes because they’ve already renewed contracts with their current drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valterri bottas, and Ferrari, for obvious reasons. Ruling out the Renault team wouldn’t be a stretch either since the team is looking at retaining Esteban Ocon while replacing the departing Daniel Ricciardo with a returning Fernando Alonso. Rumour had it that the German could be in talks with his previous RedBull team. But RedBull has made it public that they’re very happy with their current pairing of Alex Albon and Max Verstappen, the 70th anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone giving them all the more reason.
The current most likely scenario is that Vettel could be joining Racing Point who has been doing decently well this season. Other rumors suggest that the void left by Vettel's exit may be a call for McLaren driver Carlos Sainz. In that case, Ferrari and McLaren may be keen on swapping their drivers for 2021. Quitting while he’s ahead is definitely ruled out this season for the German driver. Will his next move restore his former glory? Whatever the outcome may be, Sebastian Vettel will forever remain one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 history. Fingers crossed!