Ferrari F1 team principal Mattia Binotto says he would be more than happy to see Sebastian Vettel joins arch-rivals Mercedes for the 2021 F1 World Championship, adding that it was a difficult decision to drop the four-time World Champion.

Vettel and Ferrari confirmed they will part ways at the end of the 2020 F1 season, with Carlos Sainz being signed to join Charles Leclerc in what will be one of the youngest driver line-ups on the grid.

Though there has been speculation that the offer of a shorter contract and reduced pay were behind Vettel’s decision to leave, Binotto refutes that by insisting simply that their visions for the future didn’t align and that the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis played its part in changing the situation.

“Without a doubt, for many reasons. Ferrari loves Sebastian as a driver and as a person, he is part of our team, our project, so it is never an easy decision,” Binotto told Marca.

“Seb was our first option and then the COVID-19 arrived, a situation that has changed many things, from the regulation to the budget ceiling, things that have changed the vision of the situation, looking ahead as with the new car, postponed to 2022. Internal reviews had to be done, difficult, and that's what we did.

“[It] is not true [Vettel left because of a short-term deal]. It is simply that things have changed and we are looking at a new cycle, and it seems that this vision, in terms of timing, did not coincide with his vision. It was not because of the type of offer or its duration.”

As it stands, Vettel has relatively limited options for the 2021 F1 season, raising the prospect that he could walk away from the sport entirely.

However, Binotto says he’d have no qualms seeing Vettel defect to Ferrari’s main rivals Mercedes for the 2021 season

“It would be a loss [if he retired], because we love and appreciate him, and it would be important for him to find a good seat next year.

“I hear rumours that you can find him in Mercedes and I would be very happy for him, I really would be.”

Mercedes has remained coy on the prospect of making a pitch to Vettel for the 2021 F1 season, a move that would come at the expense of Valtteri Bottas.

Though it accepts it would be wise to consider the prospect of forging a team with two drivers that have ten F1 drivers’ world titles between them, there are fears it could destabilise lead driver Lewis Hamilton if it were to get such a fierce rival in Vettel alongside him.

 

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