Daniel Ricciardo reacts during a press conference. File
Max Verstappen suggested on Tuesday that Carlos Sainz would replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari after saying he didn’t think Daniel Ricciardo would move to the Italian Formula One outfit next season.
Ricciardo and Spaniard Sainz are the favourites to move to the ‘Scuderia’ following Vettel’s announcement on Tuesday that he would be leaving at the end of the 2020 campaign.
Italian-speaking, Australia-born Ricciardo is in the last of a lucrative two-year contract with Renault.
Asked by former F1 racer David Coulthard whether the seat would go to an Italian sounding name or a Spanish sounding name, in reference to Ricciardo and McLaren driver Sainz, Verstappen said: “I think it’s not going to be the Italian sounding name.”
“Let’s see. At the end of the day, it’s just a guess. We’ll have to wait and see,” he added during the Instagram Q&A.
Ricciardo, 30, has won seven Grand Prixs during his F1 career, while 25-year-old Sainz is yet to win a single race.
Verstappen also ruled himself out of moving to Ferrari, saying that he “definitely” would not be leaving Red Bull at the end of a season whose start has been delayed until July due to the coronavirus.
“I’m at Red Bull. I saw some questions coming along if I was going to Ferrari, but I’m not,” he said.
Vettel said in his announcement that there was no longer a “common desire” to work together with Ferrari, who have not announced a replacement for the four-time world champion.
It has been widely reported that after being outpaced by 22-year-old teammate Charles Leclerc in 2019, Ferrari had offered Vettel only a one-year contract extension at a significantly reduced salary.
Last year Vettel was time and again put in the shade by Leclerc, the prodigious talent who is 10 years his junior and entering his second season with Ferrari.
The driver from Monaco claimed seven poles in his maiden season at Maranello, winning twice including an emotional triumph at Monza.
Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 to replace Fernando Alonso, but has not added to his world titles at Red Bull from 2010-13.
He had hoped to emulate Michael Schumacher, his childhood idol, who won five of his record seven F1 titles with Ferrari.
But he only won 14 of his 53 career races during five seasons with Ferrari.
Italian and German media reports have linked Vettel to McLaren, possibly in a straight swap for the Sainz.
Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo is also being strongly touted as Ferrari’s choice, and could be eager for a switch after his team struggled last season. The Australian driver went from winning seven races and getting regular podiums with Red Bull to only managing one fourth-place finish with Renault, coming ninth overall in the standings.
McLaren is on the rise again, so it could be a logical move for Vettel.
The door appears largely closed to Vettel at Mercedes, where Lewis Hamilton has a strong relationship with team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and shut firm at Red Bull.
Vettel and Verstappen also don’t have the best relationship, as they have clashed on track in the past and aimed jibes at each other.
The other option for Vettel is simply to retire altogether after starting his F1 career in 2007, and winning his first race the following year.
Ferrari Formula One boss Mattia Binotto on Tuesday urged his team to “put a smile on people’s faces” at the Australian Grand Prix as Italy went into lockdown to combat coronavirus.
Sainz, 25, will leave McLaren following the 2020 season to partner 22-year-old Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, forming the team’s youngest pairing in the past 50 years.
Vettel, who joined in 2015 with the dream of emulating boyhood hero Michael Schumacher in winning titles with the sport's oldest and most glamorous team, is out of contract at the end of the year.
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