The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow team announced today that Sebastian Vettel will leave the Italian outfit at the end of the 2020 F1 championship season.
Vettel's existing three-year deal expires at the end of the season, but the team and the quadruple champion could not reach an agreement despite month-long talks about a possible extension of the contract.
Reflecting on the announcement, Sebastian Vettel said that financial matters have not been the key motives in his decision.
"My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020. In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be."
"What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future."
The German has thanked for all the support he has received from Ferrari's enthusiastic and passionate supporters, the Tifosi.
"Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its “tifosi” all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years. My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far."
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto stressed that the decision has been made jointly, but it was a tough call to make.
"This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best. It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives."
Thanks to his 14 Grands Prix wins, Vettel is Ferrari's third most successful driver. Although the German came close to winning the championship on multiple occasions, he failed to add to his four titles he secured with Red Bull. Despite failing to score a championship title together, Binotto hopes that the unusual 2020 season could still throw up possibilities to achieve their ultimate goal.
"On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities he has displayed over these five years, during which we shared so many great moments. We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe that we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season," he concluded.