Sebastian Vettel has confirmed he was never offered a new contract by Ferrari and admits he was surprised to be told the team didn’t want to continue with him.
During the enforced shutdown in racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrari finalized its 2021 driver line-up by announcing Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the year with Carlos Sainz replacing him. The announcement stated Vettel and Ferrari had failed to reach an agreement to extend the partnership after team principal Mattia Binotto had previously called the German his first choice, but Vettel says there were never talks about an extension.
“There was no sticking point, so… it was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from Mattia when he told me that there was no further intention for the team to continue,” Vettel said. “We never got into any discussions, there was never an offer on the table and therefore there was no sticking point.”
Vettel’s next move has yet to be announced and the four-time world champion says he is not in discussion with other teams at this stage but wants to remain in Formula 1.
“Well, at the moment I’m not really having any [discussions],” he said. “Looking forward, obviously I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future. I have a very competitive nature – I have achieved a lot in the sport, I’m motivated and willing to achieve more. To do so, I need the right package and the right people around me, so that’s what I’m looking out for at the moment. If the right opportunity should arise, then it is quite clear. If that’s not the case, then I’ll probably have to look out for something else.”
If the right opportunity does not present itself in F1, Vettel admits he is unsure if he would retire or take a sabbatical, but believes the latter option is a dangerous attitude to have.
“I don’t know; as I said, if the right thing comes together and comes up [and] I’m willing to continue then I feel I have much more to give,” he said. “If that’s not the case and doesn’t come together, then as I said, probably time to do something else.
“But I am of the conviction that if you are prepared to let’s say shut the door, then you should be prepared to shut that door and not shut it and expect it to open again. You have to be aware of the decision you are making at the time, and that’s also why I’m not rushing into anything. The next weeks and months will probably bring some more clarity.”