Sebastian Vettel is still pushing for a new Ferrari contract and is hoping to make progress in his talks with the team during the current hiatus in racing.
Vettel’s contract is due to expire at the end of the 2020 season and there was speculation at the start of the year that he might not stay at the team in 2021. However, Ferrari has since said Vettel is the team’s first pick to partner with Charles Leclerc, and in an online news conference on Thursday, four-time world champion Vettel said there is “no discussion” over the possibility of retiring from F1 at the end of the year.
The coronavirus pandemic means racing is on hold until July at the earliest, and Vettel said he and Ferrari would use the time to enter negotiations.
“We still have some time in the next weeks and, by the looks of it, the first grand prix is not due for a while, unfortunately,” he said. “For sure it will give us some time to cover some more ground in this regard.”
Asked if he was confident of getting a deal signed before F1 returns to racing this year, he added: “I think it depends when we’ll have the first race. I think we’re all waiting for the situation. … One of the key things now for everyone — whether you’re in sport or not — is to remain patient.
“But looking at myself and your question, it obviously depends when we will have the first race. There is a high chance we will have to make a decision before there will be the first race, because at the moment it looks like there will be no race before June or even July.
“We are all waiting, but I think the main priority at first is to ensure that we’re all dealing with the situation in the right way. Therefore, everything was put on hold, and I can imagine that’s the same everywhere else, and it was the same for us.
“It’s not like a couple of days after Australia we said, ‘Right now [we’ll talk].’ … I think we will make progress, but I don’t think there’s a real timeline. Whether it will be before the first race or not depends on when we will have the first race.”
Leclerc signed a contract extension with Ferrari over the winter that will keep him at the team for the next five years. The length of Leclerc’s deal raised questions over how Vettel fits into Ferrari’s long-term planning, but the 32-year-old said the length of his next contract was still up for debate.
“I think whatever the deal will be like, it will be whatever I and the team will be comfortable with,” he added. “So in terms of duration, I don’t know. Normally, the contracts I’ve had in the past were all a three-year deal.
“I know I’m one of the more experienced drivers in Formula One, but I’m not the oldest and I don’t think there’s an age limit in this regard. So it will be depending on what we feel comfortable with.”
Homeschooling and D.I.Y.
Vettel was speaking to F1’s media from his home in Switzerland and said his days in lockdown have been split between looking after his three children, do-it-yourself work and training.
“I’m not homeschooling yet — we don’t have a fixed programme — but two of them are in kindergarten, so we get some stuff sent over,” he said. “We are quite happy to keep the kids entertained and figure out some stuff. There’s been lots of variety, both German-speaking, English-speaking. But in general, we’re definitely not getting bored and not running out of ideas. They keep us busy!
“It is a break in one way, but it’s also a bit awkward because nothing else is going on. Normally, I’m a big sports fan and follow other sports in the meantime when I have a break. Now there is no chance to do that.
“It’s definitely different to, let’s say, a normal break, but there is some more time for other stuff which normally you don’t have time to do, so I’m trying to use it — looking after the house, doing small jobs here and there which I have neglected over the years.
“It’s also a huge chance to do some more complex stuff in terms of training, with a bit more time to prepare. So I’m trying to stay fit. Other than that, I’m spending the time with the family.”