Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are to split at the end of this season after six years together in Formula 1, according to Motorsport-Total sources.
Bild and Auto Motor und Sport also reported on Monday night that Vettel will leave the Ferrari team and the news will be confirmed this week, likely Tuesday.
Vettel's current three-year contract with Ferrari was signed in August 2017 and expires at the end of 2020. Negotiations on a continuation of the cooperation were accompanied by media speculation for weeks but now the decision has been made that Vettel will leave the Maranello-based team.
At the beginning of the speculation, Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Ferrari had offered Vettel a one-year contract for 2021, with a reduced salary. Ferrari had already tied down star Charles Leclerc for five more years, until the end of 2024.
This shifted the dynamics at the Scuderia against Vettel, who threatened to slip into the number two role behind Leclerc despite his 14 wins for the Scuderia.
Vettel, a four-time World Champion at Red Bull Racing, was overshadowed by teammate Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, and then departed for Ferrari. Although he has twice finished runner-up in the championship for the legendary squad, his career there has been pock-marked by high-profile errors. Having easily outperformed teammate Kimi Raikkonen while they were partners there, he then appeared to be on the back foot from the moment F1 sophomore Leclerc arrived in 2019.
Where Vettel will continue his Formula 1 career is currently up in the air. Rumours in the Italian press say that Renault has already made him a concrete offer, because Daniel Ricciardo has lost the desire to continue the collaboration.
Another possibility would be McLaren, if – as rumour has it – Carlos Sainz is to be his replacement at Ferrari. The 25-year-old Spaniard’s contract with McLaren also expires at the end of 2020, and it is said that he would be a popular choice at Maranello.
Vettel's long-time sponsor Helmut Marko had recently ruled out a return to Red Bull Racing, for whom Max Verstappen will drive until at least 2023. According to Marko, Red Bull cannot or will not pay two superstars “for very simple monetary reasons”.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com ahead of the Australian GP, Vettel – who turns 33 this summer – revealed he is also pondering his future after Formula 1 when he decides to retire. He didn’t rule out racing in other championships following the conclusion of his F1 career, which started in 2007.
“If I'm realistic, I'm not going to be here in ten years,” he added. "So I think this is something you naturally start to think about.
“I think I'm in a very fortunate position that I can probably try and do a lot of things, once I have decided to stop racing in F1. Maybe race something else, maybe do something different in motorsport or do something completely different outside. I have some ideas, but I haven't decided. I'm quite relaxed.”
Six-time and reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton is also only under contract with Mercedes until the end of 2020 and has not yet officially announced his future plans.