Insiders ponder retirement for departing Vettel
"His words sound like farewell"
Speculation about Sebastian Vettel’s next move is already in a high gear.
On Tuesday, Ferrari announced that the German driver is not staying at the Maranello team beyond 2020.
Team boss Mattia Binotto said there was "no specific reason" for the joint decision, while the quadruple world champion hinted that the required "perfect harmony" is no longer a feature of their relationship.
"Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision," the 32-year-old said. "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. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future."
Vettel’s comments immediately ramped up speculation that he may simply retire.
"His whole essence last year was a little like he did not want to be there," former driver Mika Salo observed to Ilta Sanomat newspaper.
Former Mercedes boss Norbert Haug agrees.
"The question for him was do we fight together? Do I get the attention I need? Is my teammate preferred? I think Sebastian made a very consistent decision," he told Bild newspaper.
Former driver Pedro de la Rosa also sniffs the prospect of retirement for Vettel.
"He is no longer talking about winning races or world championships but about wanting the best for his future, which is probably far from racing. His words sound like farewell," the Spaniard said.
Ralf Schumacher thinks Vettel quit partly because there was "a lot more bickering behind the scenes" at Ferrari than was made public.
"If a driver no longer feels comfortable or no longer feels the support, then he has to go," the German told Sport1.
"Of course there is a possibility that he will stop, but I am very sure that he has alternatives. He doesn’t have a manager, but he would be badly advised to make a decision without having an alternative," added Schumacher.