Sebastian Vettel’s time at Ferrari has been a disappointing one. After dominating Formula 1 with four consecutive world championships in the 2010s with Red Bull, Vettel made the much-hyped switch to the Scuderia in 2015.
The hope was that the German could finally bring a period of dominance that Ferrari hadn’t had since his compatriot Michael Schumacher ruled F1 in the early 2000s.
However, that has been far from the case as Vettel has underperformed in his first five years with the team. After back-to-back runners-up finishes in the drivers’ championship in 2017 and 2018, he went a disappointing fifth last season and lost out to team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Vettel’s contract runs out at the end of 2020, and Ferrari should seriously consider moving on from the former world champion. But who will Ferrari replace him with? SBOTOP breaks down three potential candidates to take Vettel’s seat for next season.
Ferrari raided Red Bull for Vettel’s services back in 2015, and they have been strongly linked with Vettel’s former team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, in recent months. Like Vettel, Ricciardo’s current deal with Renault also runs out at the end of this season, which would make him a free agent.
The 31-year-old was tipped for big things after his success with Red Bull. In four years with the team, he won seven races, the last of which coming in 2018 at the Monaco Grand Prix. He also finished third in the drivers’ championship twice (2014 and 2016).
However, the Aussie had a disappointing debut season last year with Renault, where he finished ninth in the standings.
When asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Ferrari, Ricciardo expressed his desire to “make it work” at Renault. (Renault have also refused to completely rule out a move for Vettel should Ricciardo leave.) But clearly, it would be tough to turn down an offer from Scuderia if it did come.
Ricciardo may not be a big enough name to satisfy some Ferrari fans, who are eager to see the Prancing Horse end their 13-year drivers’ championship drought.
Ricciardo may be the most realistic option for Ferrari, though. And the Aussie has at least shown enough potential that he can grow into a true championship contender.
If a move for Ricciardo doesn’t work out, perhaps Ferrari can explore the possibility of reuniting with an old friend: Sergio Perez.
Perez was signed to Ferrari’s Driver Academy in 2010 and debuted in F1 the following year with Ferrari engine customers Sauber.
The Mexican had an impressive second season which saw him finish on the podium three times. That attracted interest from McLaren, who snapped him up after Lewis Hamilton left for Mercedes.
However, Perez had a disappointing time with McLaren. In hindsight, Perez had some regrets about moving to McLaren instead of staying on at Ferrari, where he likely could’ve risen up and won a seat in time.
Perez has since moved on to Racing Point, where he has grown into one of the more underrated drivers on the grid. He has consistently gotten a lot out of a car which is clearly a notch below the big boys and has an impressive eight career podium finishes to his name.
Perez has continued to be linked with a return to Ferrari, and a move could make a lot of sense. He would be a clear No. 2 behind Charles Leclerc, who has shown the potential to be a future world champion. That clear hierarchy within Ferrari would put an end to the conflicts that plagued Leclerc and Vettel last season.
But if Ferrari fans had their pick, they would go for just one man: Lewis Hamilton. Clearly, the Brit is one of the best drivers of all-time and has dominated F1 during the 2010s with five championships in the last six years.
Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes is up at the end of the season, although the recent Formula 1 2020 updates indicate that the team has a mega-deal all lined up for him. But he has yet to sign on the dotted line, which still gives Ferrari hope of stealing him away.
Although, the Formula 1 2020 tips still fancy Hamilton staying with Mercedes, who have proven to be the best team by some distance.
Ferrari could only hope that after years of dominance, Hamilton is hungry for a new challenge. Or perhaps Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff’s rumoured departure could make Hamilton reconsider his future with the team.
Even with the chances stacked against them, though, Ferrari should still do all they can to go after Hamilton. The Brit is more than capable of bringing back the glory days that Ferrari haven’t tasted since Schumacher.
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