Sebastian Vettel says he will head into Ferrari contract negotiations before the 2020 Formula 1 season officially starts given the delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The four-time F1 world champion’s future at Ferrari and in the sport itself became a major talking point after the Scuderia nailed down teammate Charles Leclerc to a long-term contract.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has made it clear he sees Vettel as his number one priority to stay at the team alongside Leclerc, but the German driver’s existing deal expires at the end of the 2020 season.

Vettel, who turns 33 in July, has remained coy about his future but given the F1 season looks set to be on hold until at least June or July he concedes there is a “high chance” he’ll be making a call on his F1 future before the season starts – giving him less chance to assess both Ferrari’s and its rivals’ level of performance.

“I think one of the key things right now for everyone, whether you are in sports or not, is to remain patient,” Vettel told selected media.

“It obviously depends when we will have the first race and there is a high chance that we will have to make a decision before because at the moment it looks like there will be no race before June or even July.”

Vettel also feels a shorter 2020 F1 season wouldn’t dilute the overall significance of the world championship.

F1 bosses are still targeting 18 or 19 races in 2020, if the season can begin in July, but Vettel says he would support a much shorter campaign if necessary.

“A season is a season, whether 10, 20 or 25 races,” he said. “So you still have to be the one who is most consistent with less races, and every race is then more important.

“But in the end the championship would still be the championship. It’s still a long way, a single race weekend is a long way, so with 10 races there would still be a lot of things to get right.”



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