On May 12, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel announced that they will not renew their contract come the end of 2020.
Barely 24 hours after the announcement, unconfirmed reports began circulating that Vettel has signed a one-year deal with McLaren for 2021, and current McLaren driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., taking up Vettel's vacant seat at Ferrari next year.
Wheels24 reached out to its readers in response to this news, with Neil Hamilton giving a comprehensive response as to how he interprets Vettel's move to McLaren.
Wheels24 reader Neil Hamilton gives his take on what 2021 may hold for Sebastian Vettel.
"And Sebastian Vettel… wiiiiiinnns in the McLaren-Mercedes!" (said in my best "Crofty" voice)
By now, every Formula 1, Ferrari, and Vettel fan know that the dream is over. Ferrari confirmed that the team and Vettel would part ways at the end of 2020. It was not unexpected.
Vettel's contract was up for renewal, but the rise of young star Charles Leclerc and some lacklustre performances from Vettel in the first half of 2019 laid the thought that the contract might not be renewed. The incidents in Russia and Brazil further solidified it.
It was clear that Ferrari was looking to Leclerc as the future, which may have further upset the balance of power at Maranello. Along with a reported $20-million pay cut, that sealed it for Vettel to not renew.
And with reports that Vettel is already standing with two feet in McLaren's door, things are suddenly looking up.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: Getty Images
McLaren will be powered by Mercedes engines from 2021, with talks of the Woking team once again becoming a full works team should Mercedes sell their F1 stake in future as they begin to invest in Formula-E. There's already been talks of Mercedes investing in McLaren to acquire a new wind tunnel.
The McLaren team is also managed by Andreas Seidl, who worked with Vettel as his race engineer at Sauber-BMW back in 2007 before the driver switched to Toro Rosso in 2008.
Seidl, after BMWs withdrawal from F1 in 2009, managed the automaker's DTM comeback in 2012 and 2013, winning on return with the M3s before heading over to Porsche's LMP1 Project, where, again, they won titles. Seidl was also instrumental in Porsche breaking Audi and Toyota's stranglehold on Le Mans.
The man knows how to manage and build a winning team, and his presence at Mclaren has already led to improved results.
Both Spanish and Italian press have rumoured contact between Vettel and Seidl in the last few months, which added fuel to the fire that Vettel sees McLaren as the only viable choice if Ferrari does not work out. McLaren is the only team, other than Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull, who can give Vettel a car to challenge for podiums, especially with Mercedes' engines coming into play again.
Sebastian Vettel. Image: Getty Images
Team of success
We know that McLaren can develop a car throughout a season, and their progress has been significant thus far with Renault power. But with Mercedes, they may have all they need to climb back to the top of the pile and attract big-name sponsors to the team. Also, the less politically charged nature of the British team may suit Vettel - everyone knows Ferrari is usually just one macaroni away from implosion at the best of times.
I think Vettel will do well in orange next year, and join a team that has produced champions in the past: Emmerson Fittipaldi (1974), James Hunt (76), Niki Lauda (84), Alain Prost (85/86/89), Ayrton Senna (88/90/91), Mika Hakkinen (98/99) and Lewis Hamilton in 2008.
It may not be Ferrari, but Mclaren is still a great team. And maybe, just maybe, we can have Vettel taking on Hamilton and Leclerc in a Mercedes-powered Mclaren, and an ensuing four-team title battle with Red Bull and Mad Max joining the fray.
(Crofty voice) "And it's lights out in Australia, and Hamilton and Vettel are neck and neck, with Max up the inside and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc snapping at their gearboxes. It's Mercedes, McLaren-Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari, and we are coming to turn three, and it's a challenge for the lead!"
Imagine that. Chills!Sebastian Vettel. Image: TeamTalk
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