Although the 2020 season has yet to turn a wheel in anger, Formula 1’s silly season is getting into full swing with Sebastian Vettel’s split from Ferrari sparking a chain of driver switches.
Last month, four-time World Champion Vettel and Ferrari announced they would part ways when the German’s contract expires at the end of 2020. While Ferrari said negotiations for a fresh deal had stalled, it has transpired that Vettel was never in the team’s plans beyond this year and that it had already agreed terms with his successor, Carlos Sainz Jr, during the winter.
Vettel’s place at Ferrari had been under question for some time, but things reached a head when he collided with team-mate Charles Leclerc during last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, putting both cars out and ironically opening the door for Sainz to score his maiden F1 podium in his McLaren.
Vettel looks set to struggle for front-end options next season, with the situation at Mercedes looking static and Red Bull’s Christian Horner rating a reunion with Vettel as “enormously unlikely.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto told Italian media he still expected Vettel to continue racing. “I think [the split] was right for him and us,” Binotto said. “Only Seb knows what he will do in the future. He’s a great driver, and he’ll make the right choice.
2020 season taking shape?
Silverstone looks set to host two races this season as F1 chiefs scramble to recover the fixtures lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the opening 10 races of the season either postponed or cancelled, the pressure is on to secure a run of grands prix to form a schedule over the second half of the year.
F1 owner Liberty Media had targeted at least 15 races for the 2020 campaign, well above the minimum of eight grands prix needed to declare the World Championship.
The season is expected to begin behind closed doors in Austria on July 3-5 in a fixture that could be come a double header.
Silverstone’s British Grand Prix originally had a date of July 12-14, but its double header is now set for July 26 and August 2.
Silverstone’s managing director Stuart Pringle confirmed the deal to stage two races, both of which would be closed to fans, but added there was still much work to be done with the government to make them happen: “We have reached an agreement in principle to host two races this summer; however, these races will be subject to government approval, as our priority is the safety of all involved.”
Despite seven of the 10 F1 teams being based in the UK, the situation is complicated by the government’s planned introduction of a two-week quarantine period for any foreign visitors into the UK, which would also include team members travelling back from international races.
Spa has also received the green light to host a race with out fans, so the Belgian GP should be able to go ahead on August 30.