Ferrari has officially announced that Sebastian Vettel will leave the team at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season.

The split was confirmed on Tuesday morning after reports in German media surfaced overnight claiming that contract talks between the two broke down with no agreement.

It brings to an end a six-year spell at Ferrari for Vettel, who quit Red Bull at the end of 2014 to complete a dream switch to Maranello.#

"My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020,” Vettel said. “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 realised 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."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto added: "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.

"There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.

“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 of 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."

With the shock breakdown and Vettel’s departure now official, attention turns towards who Ferrari will choose as his replacement.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz are among the drivers who have been linked to the spare seat at Ferrari. Antonio Giovinazzi, who drives for the closely-affiliated Alfa Romeo team, is also an option.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is also out of contract at the end of the season but the Briton has repeatedly insisted he plans to remain at the Mercedes squad he has won five of his six titles with.

For Vettel, who turns 33 in July, there is major uncertainty over what direction his future holds.

Vettel could be an option for McLaren should Ferrari sign Sainz, though he could face competition for the seat from Daniel Ricciardo, who held serious talks with the Woking squad in 2018 when he was considering his Red Bull future.

Ricciardo is unsettled at Renault after a disappointing maiden campaign with the French team, while the postponement of F1’s major technical regulation overhaul - original planned for 2021 - has had a knock-on effect for Renault’s vision to return to winning ways.

Vettel has been linked with Renault after team principal Cyril Abiteboul refused to rule out a move for the German for 2021 in the event of Ricciardo leaving.

According to reports in Italian press, Renault has already made Vettel a concrete offer because Ricciardo has decided he wants to move to another team.

A return to Red Bull looks unlikely as it would go against the team’s philosophy of promoting young talent. Red Bull has already tied down its superstar driver Max Verstappen until the end of 2023, while Alex Albon is set to embark on his first full season with the Milton Keynes outfit this year.

 

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