Ferrari says shutdown ended effort to retain Vettel

Tanya Simon
July 3, 2020

Ferrari team chief Mattia Binotto admitted on Friday (July 3) that the Italian team had not made any offer to keep Sebastian Vettel before telling the four-time champion he was being released at the end of the year.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, Vettel, who will be replaced by McLaren's Carlos Sainz in 2021, revealed "there was never an offer on the table" from Ferrari for next year.

But on his first public appearance since news of the end-of-season split emerged last month, Vettel said at the Austrian GP on Thursday that he learned of Ferrari's decision in a phone call from Binotto and was duly left "surprised" by the turn of events.

Binotto says he sympathises with Vettel and understands why the German, whose future in F1 remains uncertain with no seat secured for 2021, is still "not fully happy" with the outcome.

"He's a great champion and as well he's a great person".

"At the moment I'm not really having any [talks about his next move]", the German said. If the right opportunity should arise then I think it's quite clear. "I think virus and pandemic situation, which changed the entire world not only our motorsport, our F1". "Looking forward, obviously I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future", he said.

"I think we decided to make a step back to try and analyse where the issue is coming from to then work on the issues, first to know exactly where it comes from, and that's where we're at for the moment, we have tried a different route for Budapest". So that's what I'm looking out for at the moment.

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Ferrari's SF1000 was off the pace during pre-season testing in Spain back in February and its prospects were played down by team boss Mattia Binotto. I'm motivated and willing to achieve more.

"I am of the conviction that if you are prepared to say "let's 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, that's also why I am not rushing into anything. The next weeks and months will probably be bringing some more clarity".

"It has been a great period - five years so far, six with the current season". When he was questioned on whether he would accept team orders now that he knows he is in his final year with the team, Vettel added: "I've always tried to integrate inside a team and the same goes for my time at Ferrari".

Vettel also refused to commit to supporting Leclerc on track should he be asked to do so by Ferrari this year.

"Yes certainly. I understand it - I think that it is pretty normal to be surprised". If the team order is logical, it doesn't matter if my contract expires or not.

"But at the same time obviously you're racing for yourself so you know I'm not trying to make Charles's life easy on track in terms of waving him by".

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