Yesterday’s breaking news about Vettel’s relationship with Ferrari coming to an end at the end of 2020 shocked the world of Formula 1. In particular it has generated an avalanche of rumors and hypothesis about who is going to replace the German at Maranello and where he is bound to go.
In the last couple of years, forseeing a number of contracts expiring at the end of 2020, debates about future line-ups spread like wildfires. One of the most discussed seats has of course been Sebastian Vettel’s.
Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher... way too many names have shown up on the speculation table as possible replacements for the four time world champion.
With Mick Schumacher automatically excluded by the super-license rules, following the officiality of the departure of Vettel from the team, Martin Brundle immediately felt like to exclude some other options too, starting from Lewis Hamilton: “I think [Hamilton] made it quite clear that Mercedes is his future, both in the cockpit and outside of it in the distant future". Moreover –Martin added- it’s very unlikely for Ferrari to put another ‘bull’ beside its long-time investment Charles Leclerc. The same undirectly applies to Fernando Alonso, but we’ll get back to him later.
Daniel Ricciardo, according to Brundle’s opinion, is not packing his shirts for a trip to Maranello as well: the next Ferrari driver could indeed be Carlos Sainz Jr instead. "This plays into the hands, to an extent, of young but well-experienced drivers. The new kids in town haven't had a chance to prove themselves as a Leclerc or [Max] Verstappen of the future, for example."
"I think they're more likely to go for Sainz," he explained. "This is a really strange time in that driver contracts are coming to their end and teams are having to make decisions based on the future with no current season as an indicator. They're working blind at the moment.”
On a wider picture, “I see a scenario which is Sainz to Ferrari, Ricciardo to McLaren, and then that leaves a seat at Renault that probably would be Alonso" stated the commentator.
But where would Sebastian possibly go then? There are not many valide options: Vettel’s words about the importance of focussing on the family as well, made clear that he’s not interested in keeping on driving for a backmarker team without any near-future improvement prospect.
Mercedes left –for the moment- the door slightly open, with Toto Wolff considering Sebastian as an option. A seat swap with either Sainz or Ricciardo wouldn’t be unexpected as well, as well as an early retirement.
Martin gambled on this topic as well: "The Renault seat, if I'm right with Ricciardo going to McLaren, is a works seat and may appeal to [Vettel]”.
A more drastic scenario has to be considered as well, Brundle pointed out: "I don't necessarily see a home for Sebastian Vettel," Martin told Sky Sports News' Craig Slater. "We know he's talking to other teams and he's got such a great turn of speed. But I wonder if it's the end of the road for Seb, or whether he'll take a midfield situation with promise. I think there's a good chance Sebastian will step away from Formula 1.”