Ferrari announced Tuesday that Sebastian Vettel will leave its Formula One team at the end of the 2020 season, when the four-time world champion's current contract is set to expire.
The decision is mutual, according to Ferrari, although there have been plenty of rumors that the relationship between Ferrari and Vettel started to sour after youngster Charles Leclerc joined the squad in 2019 and started scoring more points (Leclerc ended the 2019 season with 264 points and two wins versus Vettel's 240 points and one win).
“In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony,” Vettel said in a statement. “The team and I have realized that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season.”
In his statement, Vettel, who turns 33 this year, also took the opportunity to quash any rumors that his decision to leave was due to Ferrari wanting to reduce his pay in future seasons.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (left) and Charles Leclerc at the 2019 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix
“Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision,” he said. “That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be.”
It is not clear at this point where Vettel will go from here. There are rumors he may end up at either Renault or McLaren, as Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren's Carlos Sainz are rumored to be potentials for filling Vettel's seat at Ferrari. There are also rumors that he might leave F1 to try another form of motorsport.
Vettel joined Ferrari at the end of 2014 after Fernando Alonso left to join McLaren. He said at the time that joining Ferrari was a dream, as he grew up idolizing “Michael Schumacher in the red car.”
During his time with the squad, Vettel managed to achieve 14 wins, making him the third most successful driver in the team's history. He also managed to finish in the top three of the Drivers’ Championship on three occasions.