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Waving farewell: Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, whatever form it may take

Waving farewell: Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, whatever form it may take

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Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz

Getty Images

Waving farewell: Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season, whatever form it may take

Sebastian Vettel revealed that there was "no longer a common desire to stay together" after it was announced he would leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 Formula One season.

Vettel won four successive world titles with Red Bull and it was anticipated he would add to his haul on joining Ferrari in 2015, but the German has been largely overshadowed by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Charles Leclerc's successful debut season at the Scuderia last year heaped more pressure on Vettel, who nevertheless had outlined his intention to extend his stay beyond the end of this year.

However, it was reported on Monday evening that contract talks had broken down without a resolution and Ferrari announced early yesterday morning a mutual agreement had been reached to part ways.

Vettel said on Ferrari's website: "My relationship with Scuderia Ferrari will finish at the end of 2020. In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it's vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony.

"The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season. Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. 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. One needs to use one's imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed.

"I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.

"My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far."

Vettel has finished third, fourth, second, second and fifth in his five completed seasons with Ferrari but he was comprehensively outshone by his junior partner Leclerc last year.

The Monegasque collected more wins, points and poles than his veteran team-mate over the course of 2019 and is widely viewed as the team's future.

Leclerc paid tribute to Vettel, writing on his official Twitter feed: "It's been a huge honour for me to be your team-mate.

"We've had some tense moments on track, some very good ones and some others that didn't end as we both wanted, but there was always respect, even though it wasn't perceived this way from the outside.

"I've never learned so much as I did with you as my teammate. Thank you for everything Seb."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: "This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best.

"It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian's worth as a driver and as a person.

"There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.

"Sebastian is already part of the Scuderia's history, with his 14 grands prix wins making him the third most successful driver for the team, while he is also the one who has scored the most points with us.

"In our five years together, he has finished in the top three of the Drivers' Championship three times, making a significant contribution to the team's constant presence in the top three of the constructors' classification.

"We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season."

While McLaren's Carlos Sainz is believed to be among a number of drivers already linked to Vettel's seat, the options available for the 32-year-old are few and far between.

Vettel, who will almost certainly not be given precedence at Ferrari if any racing can take place this season amid the coronavirus crisis, has already spoken about contemplating his future beyond F1.

"If realistic, I'm not going to be here in 10 years," he said last month. "This is something you naturally start to think about.

"I'm in a very fortunate position that I can probably try and do a lot of things, once I have decided to stop racing in F1. Maybe race something else, maybe do something different in motorsport or do something completely different outside.

"I have some ideas, but I haven't decided."

Belfast Telegraph