Sebastian Vettel has 53 Formula 1 race victories and 57 pole positions as well as 4 F1 Drivers’ World Championships. Since Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari announced that they would part ways after the 2020 F1 Season, every critic, driver and race fan now has an opinion of what Vettel should do next. So, how realistic are the scenarios being presented in the media and what impact would it have if the 4-time F1 World Champion does choose to retire at season’s end?
Prior to all the records achieved by Sebastian Vettel as part of the Red Bull Racing team, it was his stunning drives in the sister team – Toro Rosso – which put him on the map. AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost worked alongside Vettel ahead of his big move to the Red Bull Racing team and Tost recently spoke to formula1.com to remind people of the talent of Sebastian Vettel:
“The end of something always means the start of something…It really depends on what seat he gets. To fight for a championship, Sebastian Vettel is a driver of the calibre who can do this. He needs to get a seat in the first three teams. Then he has a real chance to win races and another championship. I know Sebastian quite well, and that is for sure his main target.”
One of those ‘top three teams’ is Red Bull Racing and having won four Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships whilst plying his craft at Red Bull Racing, many saw there being an option of Vettel ‘returning home’ to his former employers. However, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was quick to dampen any such discussion having told Sky Sports News:
“I think it’s enormously unlikely…We have a long-term agreement with Max [Verstappen]. Alex [Albon] is doing a good job. We’ve got a good dynamic within the team. Experience shows that two alpha males, it doesn’t tend to pan out well…Sebastian is still a very competitive grand prix driver. I don’t think it would be conducive for our team to have two alphas. We’re happy with the driver line-up we have. I’m sure he’s not short of options moving forward, but obviously he’s chosen that it hasn’t worked out for him at Ferrari.”
So, no option at race winning Red Bull Racing but much praise nonetheless from his former employers – hardly a shock after all he did for them. What other offers may be on the table for the current (soon to be former) Scuderia Ferrari man?
Well, anyone who knows Sebastian Vettel is aware how vocal he is about loving the history of racing and being in the record books with legends from the past. One such legend is 2-time F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen and the 1998 and 1999 Finnish F1 Champion has also offered advice to Vettel in his Unibet column…whether he asked for it or not:
“Sebastian has a big decision to make about his future. He was not considering retirement, but he will now have to look at what other options are available in 2021 and 2022, as well as consider how he feels about the job of remaining a Formula 1 driver – especially if he is unable to drive for a winning team…Although he is only 33 this year, he made his debut in Formula 1 at a very young age, 19, and I am sure that when you start so young it also becomes more difficult to maintain the high energy levels you need to stay at the top of this sport. Personally, I would like to see him continue as he remains a quick driver and a great ambassador for Formula 1, but only he can make the final decision. He will know in his heart what the right decision is.”
To be able to assess where Sebastian Vettel may head to in 2021, the current form of the German driver must be considered. An unlikely commentator on Vettel’s current form came in the shape of Felipe Massa’s former race engineer Rob Smedley who received many puzzled comments from fans when telling the F1 Nation podcast that 2019 was Vettel’s best year:
“He dominated Kimi [Raikkonen] with Mark [Webber] at Red Bull, who’s absolutely no slouch, Mark’s a really fast driver, and [Vettel] managed to always come out on top. But I’m just not sure that he’s ever had the challenge that he had in 2019, so for him to cope with that, and to come back and kind of stamp his authority after a shaky start, I personally think we saw something special.”
It would certainly be something special if the scenario of the dream team of 4-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and 6-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton racing alongside each other for Mercedes-AMG Petronas became a reality. As enjoyable as such a prospect may be, F1’s Digital Presenter Will Buxton doubts whether the risk is worth the reward as he shared in his F1 column.
“Why would the team risk all it has built and the potential of a unified front going into the next generation of the sport, for one year? A year of marketing and most importantly potential sporting gold, admittedly. But would they really do it? It would represent a season the likes of which Formula 1 has never known, and a contest that would go down in the annals of sporting history, whatever the outcome.”
With so many comments being voiced on Vettel’s next move, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the Evening Standard:
‘’I’ve talked a lot with Sebastian and I think he should take a year off. He better come back in 2022 with the new rules. Then he can take a step back and see what the new rules will bring about in F1. However, I think he would like to drive next to Lewis at Mercedes’’
On the other hand, FIA President Jean Todt announced to Sky Sports that he does not consider Vettel’s Scuderia Ferrari departure as being the act to signal retirement:
“Sebastian Vettel is one of the greatest talents in motorsport. An announcement has been made that he will not drive for the team beyond 2020. There are a lot of other opportunities. We can only wish him the best and I mean that. Whoever will take him will be very lucky…Maybe he will be a good president of the FIA in the future. You never know."
Therefore, should Sebastian Vettel choose to make 2020 his last season of F1 before a hiatus or retirement – what chance is there of success?
Sebastian Vettel’s current teammate is Charles Leclerc and recently the Monegasque Formula 1 racer told F1.com that Scuderia Ferrari still has a lot of work to do to catch up to Mercedes ahead of the first race on the revised calendar - July 5th in Austria.
“I still believe we have been struggling a bit during testing so we need to catch up…Whether we will be able to or not I don’t know, but last year we had a good progression throughout the year. I think we need to keep working as we did last year and I’m pretty sure the results will come…It’s going to be a difficult season for everyone because as soon as it starts it’s not going to stop and we won’t have any breaks to develop the car more than the others.”
With Scuderia Ferrari appearing to be so far off the pace, a fairytale 5th World Title for Sebastian Vettel seems further away than ever but where do Vettel’s priorities lie having already achieved so much?
Sebastian Vettel is known for being the only F1 driver who is not active on social media and quite rightly the German racer chooses to keep his private life private. This can lead one to assume that Vettel is very good at having the divide between work and home. As recent viral stories have shown, Sebastian Vettel does a lot for his fans and at races he is approachable, amicable and above all humourous in press conferences – not to mention a supreme racing driver.
You do not have to look far to find opposing views on what the 4-time F1 Champion should do next – as shown in this article. However, Sebastian Vettel is so much more than a racer and should he choose to retire or continue racing for a different team that is his choice. After all, his is the only opinion that matters!