Marchionne didn’t live to see how it panned out, of course, but the plan he set in motion played out and the non-renewal of Vettel’s contract is the conclusion. An offer was made, but not one that Vettel could live with.
“In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony,” was Vettel’s diplomatic but pointed statement. He couldn’t be in harmony with a set up that was based around Leclerc being the chosen one. He wasn’t interested in the former Räikkönen role, in other words. As a proud four-time world champion that was understandable.
So now Ferrari looks on the verge of replacing Vettel with Carlos Sainz. A terrific driver, still early in an F1 career that’s been far from straightforward, the chance to be in a winning car is just too good to turn down, let alone the Ferrari prestige that goes with it.
He’s at a more appropriate point in his career than Vettel – or even Daniel Ricciardo – to accept joining a team with an entrenched leader. All he has to do is blend nicely with the team, keep his nose clean, build up his own little corner and then do his stuff.
How that compares to Leclerc’s stuff will likely be close enough that there will be some tricky moments on the Ferrari pit wall. But that’s manageable. The requirements of Ferrari and Sainz integrate nicely at the moment. How they will do going forward once he’s won a few races remains to be seen. But that’s a problem for another day.