SAINZ FAVOURED

Verstappen says Spaniard is tipped over Ricciardo for Vettel’s seat

F1 champions Mercedes must consider Vettel’s situation when deciding their 2021 lineup—team boss Toto Wolff has said.

In Summary

•Ferrari announced on Tuesday that four times world champion Vettel would be leaving them at the end of the season.

•Asked whether he thought Vettel’s replacement would be the Italian or Spanish-sounding name, Verstappen replied: “I think it’s not going to be the Italian-sounding name... it’s just a guess, we’ll have to wait and see.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz arriving to the Circuit REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz arriving to the Circuit REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo
Image: REUTERS

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reckons Spaniard Carlos Sainz is more likely to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari next year than Daniel Ricciardo.

Ferrari announced on Tuesday that four times world champion Vettel would be leaving them at the end of the season.

McLaren’s Sainz and Renault’s Ricciardo, considered the leading contenders for one of the most coveted seats in the sport, were teammates of Dutch 22-year-old Verstappen at Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) and Red Bull respectively.

“The speculation was going on a bit, is he going to continue with Ferrari or not? Well, today it’s out. He’s not,” Verstappen said in an Instagram Q&A with former racer David Coulthard for team sponsor Puma.

“I guess also very soon we’ll find out who the replacement is going to be. It’s definitely not me, I can tell you. I’m at Red Bull,” added Verstappen, whose contract runs to the end of 2023.

Asked whether he thought Vettel’s replacement would be the Italian or Spanish-sounding name, Verstappen replied: “I think it’s not going to be the Italian-sounding name... it’s just a guess, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Both Ricciardo and Sainz, already on his third team at the age of 25 after a stint at Renault before McLaren, are both out of contract at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Formula One champions Mercedes must consider Sebastian Vettel’s situation when deciding their 2021 lineup, team boss Toto Wolff has said.

Ferrari announced earlier that the four-times world champion would be leaving Maranello when his contract runs out at the end of the season. “Sebastian is a great driver, a major personality and an asset to any Formula One team,” said Wolff, in quotes provided by Mercedes.

The Austrian is currently in negotiations with six times world champion Lewis Hamilton over a new deal.

“When looking to the future, our first loyalty lies with the current Mercedes drivers but naturally we must take this development into consideration.”

Hamilton and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas are out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the season and Wolff’s comments will be noted by both.

Hamilton, 35, has been linked to Ferrari in media speculation, but the Briton has indicated he plans to stay with the team that has won the last six drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

The mere fact Vettel is available could give Mercedes some useful ammunition when it comes to negotiating salaries at least.