Sebastian Vettel is stuck between a rock and a hard place regarding his Formula 1 career.
On the one hand, he is done with the sport and could see his career end by year-end. On the other, there is a faint hope that he could stick around for another tenure. His only hope for the latter is the Mercedes team - the very team that is built around six-time F1 champion, Lewis Hamilton.
In May 2020, Vettel and Ferrari announced that they would not renew their contractual agreement and that 2020 is the last year they would be racing together. It was a tough pill to swallow for many because everyone – friend or foe – had a dim hope that the two parties could emulate the glory years of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.
Sadly, that was not to be, and Vettel is leaving Ferrari with no championship gold to show for it. Six years, and no glory.
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Sebastian Vettel. Image: Getty Images
Merc's German demands
When Mercedes rejoined the sport in 2010, it was imperative to have at least one German driver on the team. Ten years ago, they had two: Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. When Schumacher departed at the end of 2012, Hamilton joined the team, but Rosberg was still there.
It was only in 2017 when things took a different turn with Valtteri Bottas, from Finnish descent, joined the team. While the Hamilton-Bottas partnership is raking in the successes, Mercedes-Benz and parent company, Daimler, still prefers a German driver in the team. This could be something that plays into Vettel's hands.
Vettel is a German driver with a proven success record. If he is to join Merc in 2021, Bottas will likely be ousted instead of Hamilton. Between Vettel and Hamilton, they have ten championships between them and will make the Mercedes team the strongest of all teams, and perhaps even unbeatable.
Bernie Ecclestone (right) and Sebastian Vettel. Image: TeamTalk
Would Vettel-Hamilton work?
On paper, a Vettel-Hamilton partnership would be a match made in heaven. Any team would give their all to acquire their services, but the financial expenditure is something only teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes can match. But how would a partnership like this play out?
Both drivers are used to having teams built around them. If they make a suggestion, the team will do everything they can to see said suggestion become a reality. At Ferrari, despite the politics and Charles Leclerc's arrival, Vettel was the team leader. At Mercedes, Hamilton is the top guy around whom everything revolves. If Vettel enters that space, any mutual understanding between the pair might go up in smoke.
Hamilton has a way of not only beating his team mates on-track but mentally, too. He broke Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren. He got the better of Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, and now Bottas has 'settled' in his role of support driver. Vettel will not take things lying down, but it is impossible to imagine that the two will not clash – either on or off track.
Should Mercedes make Vettel an offer? From a marketing perspective, as Toto Wolff said, it would be great. But the reality is that two dogs will fight over a bone, and the brawl can create an opportunity for a third to take it. Still, it would make for great racing, though…
Sebastian Vettel (left) and Lewis Hamilton. Image: TeamTalk