They say when one door closes, another one opens. While that’s generally good advice, in the case of Formula One’s Sebastian Vettel, that remains to be seen. His future with the sport, if indeed there is a future, is an open book. His recent release from Ferrari came as a shock to everyone, including Vettel himself. What’s next for the aging superstar?
Vettel’s career: a quick recap
Vettel is known as something of a phenom. Born in Germany in 1987, Vettel looked up to racing legend Michael Schumacher, and from a young age he knew he wanted to race Formula One.
The term “from a young age” is what defines him best. He got his start driving go karts at the age of 3 and never stopped. By the time he was 17, he was already driving in Formula Three races and testing for Reynard.
In 2005, he began test-driving for BMW Formula One. In 2006, he set a record, becoming the youngest Grand Prix contestant in the sport’s history. He was only 19 at the time.
He soon left BMW, however, and began driving at the Scuderia for Ferrari. It was there that people began comparing the rising star to his hero, Schumacher.
Early in his career, Vettel set numerous speed records. By 2010, he had become the youngest World’s Driver Champion in the sport’s history after winning the final race of the season at Abu Dhabi. He would go on to set a record, winning the next four years in a row.
Why is Ferrari dropping him?
Vettel is 33 now and rapidly approaching retirement. He’s not quite the rising young star that he once was. In fact, he has some serious competition.
Last year saw newcomer Charles Leclerc join the Scuderia, and he brought with him a new vitality. He is the first teammate to ever outscore Vettel, a trend that looks to continue in 2020. That’s partly to blame for Ferrari’s sudden choice not to extend Vettel’s contract, even though the two sides were reportedly in the midst of negotiations.
It is also due to the pressures of the Coronavirus. According to the Independent, the choice was due to budget restrictions from Ferrari itself, “as well as the delay of the new regulations until 2022.”
But part of the blame lies at Vettel’s own feet. He’s not the dominant racer that he once was. Already, 2020 is isn’t off to a good start. Vettel sits at 11th place overall with only 16 points as opposed to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, a driver that has been Vettel’s nemesis for years.
So far, this season has been marked by penalties and in-fighting amongst his crew. Which begs the question: what comes next?
Does anyone have a spot for Vettel?
Immediately following Ferrari’s announcement, Vettel was left wondering what 2021 would hold. Very few teams, if any, have space for him. Both Mercedes’ drivers, including Lewis, have not yet signed new contracts, and while Vettel wants to remain hopeful, there is no reason that the current champions wouldn’t want to retain their team.
According to Formula One, there’s been some chatter about Vettel joining the newly-rebranded Aston Martin team, but it seems like that door closed as soon as it opened.
There seem to be only two real options, unless a miracle placement presents itself: take a year off and hope for the best, or retire. As of right now, taking a year off is a non-option for the aging star. According to Vettel himself, once he retires, he does so for good.
Will Vettel have a career in Formula One once the 2020 season ends? That remains to be seen, but at least his is a career to be proud of.