Formula 1 compulsory break, but not behind the scenes. Ferrari talks to Vettel about a new contract and puts real pressure on the German.
Formula 1 is in garage mode. Instead of accelerating, the pilots are currently on the brakes. But regardless of the current status of the races, the conversations continue behind the scenes. So also the contract negotiations between Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel (32).
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto (50) is using the forced break to put pressure on the four-time world champion, whose red contract expires at the end of the year. The Italian is alluding to the phase in which the wheels will turn again in the premier class. Binotto speaks plain text on the official Formula 1 website when it comes to what the Ferrari signature on a new working document between Vettel and Scuderia depends on: “It is in his hands.”
That means: Vettel has to deliver. Binotto plays the ball hard into the German’s field: “He knows he needs to do well. It’s a key moment of his career, because whatever he may do at the start of the season will be important for his renewal. It’s in his hands.”
2020 is Vettel’s sixth year at Ferrari, the last of his second contract with the Reds. The contract of his teammate Charles Leclerc had been extended ahead of Christmas. By 2024. A clear signal to whom the future belongs to Ferrari. And a note that Binotto is now emphasizing with his announcement.
Even more: The Italian even sets a deadline. Binotto: “It’s important we address it quite soon. It’s not something we will leave until the end of the season. It’s important for him and for ourselves to get clarity as soon as we can. Discussions are ongoing, and hopefully that will be done soon.”
Alone: Even praising statements sound like criticism from the mouth of the Ferrari race director nowadays. “Last year was important for him”, Binotto says. “Charles’ performance took him by surprise. It’s not the case anymore, he knows where the benchmark is and he knows what he needs to do, so I think he has prepared himself very well through the winter. He spent last year trying to understand what went wrong and making sure he does better this year.”
After all: Apparently Vettel copes better with the SF1000 than with the previous model. “At least from the first indications of Barcelona”, says Binotto, who then adds again: “Having said that, one of the best skills of the great drivers is to be able to adapt to the car you have available and to get the most out of it.” Another sentence that makes it clear: The time of Ferrari romance is finally over for Vettel.