In Brief

F1: ‘first option’ Sebastian Vettel is keen to stay at Ferrari

Mattia Binotto is only focussed on the Ferrari drivers - not Lewis Hamilton

Vettel: I want to stay

Ferrari have confirmed that Sebastian Vettel is their “first option” for 2021 despite speculation linking the Italian Formula 1 team with Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton. 

While Charles Leclerc has recently signed a new long-term deal at Maranello, Vettel’s future has been questioned with the German driver out of contract at the end of the 2020 season.

When asked about Ferrari’s options for next year, team principal Mattia Binotto gave 32-year-old Vettel a “huge show of faith”, Sky Sports reports. 

Speaking at the launch of the SF1000 car, Binotto said: “Sebastian is our first choice at the moment. It is something we are discussing with him and we will continue to discuss. He is certainly our first option, and our preference.”

Vettel, a four-time world champion, also stated his intention to continue his Ferrari career.

He told Sky Sports F1’s David Croft: “I would like to [stay], yes. The priority right now is on 2020 and then we see. 

“I have been in the position already before with Ferrari, and it’s only February. Last time we confirmed the contract for the future it was August, so I don’t think it changes much. The intentions are clear and I’m sure we’ll sort it out.

“I feel good, I feel confident. There are things I can do better and I am sure I will do better this year.”

In recent weeks there has been speculation that six-time world champion Hamilton could leave Mercedes for Ferrari, but Binotto quashed those rumours. 

“We are not considering that at the moment,” he said. “We are focused only on our drivers.”

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Is Vietnam also in doubt?

On Wednesday it was confirmed that the Chinese Grand Prix on 19 April has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, according to reports, the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix could also be in doubt. 

Should the 5 April race in Vietnam also be cancelled it would throw the 2020 F1 season into “chaos”, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

After the China announcement, the focus now turns to Vietnam, says The Guardian. The race will be held in Hanoi, which is located 100 miles from the Chinese border, but F1 insists that the event remains fully on schedule.

Meanwhile, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen also thinks there could be a doubt about Vietnam’s debut event. 

He told Danish broadcaster TV2: “We’ll have to see. Vietnam is right before China [on the calendar], so we’ll have to keep an eye on that too. It’s a pity, but it does mean a mini-holiday for us.”

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