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VETTEL HOLDS THE KEY OF 2021 DRIVER MARKET

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Here are some of the drivers who are most likely to have the biggest influence on setting off a chain reaction of moves to form 2021’s line up…

Sebastian Vettel is another driver who finds himself at a career crossroads. Multiple times the German had to fend off suggestions he was considering retirement during another frustrating F1 campaign having seen his 2018 title bid collapse in disastrous fashion.

Vettel won just once in 2019 and was often out-performed by his younger teammate Leclerc, who claimed two victories and seven pole positions en route to beating Vettel to fourth place in the championship. A stunning first year at the Prancing Horse resulted in Leclerc receiving a fresh five-year contract running until the end of 2024, effectively confirming he is the future for Ferrari.

Vettel has been non-committal over his desire to remain in F1 going into the championship’s new era post-2020, though he repeatedly stressed there would be no Nico Rosberg-esque bombshell retirement at the end of 2019, confirming he would still be a Ferrari driver come the start of 2020.

F1 2020 IS A MAKE OR BREAK SEASON FOR SEBASTIAN VETTEL

With his contract due to expire at the culmination of the upcoming season, Vettel’s decision is likely to be swayed by Ferrari’s performance this year. While Vettel’s 2019 season was ultimately underwhelming, he showed glimpses of his brilliant best in Canada (until his costly late error), Germany, Singapore, Sochi and Japan, of all which acted as a reminder that he remains a force to be reckoned with when at one with his car.

Should Vettel recapture the sort of form that saw him storm to four successive titles in the early 2010s, and if Ferrari can build on its promising gains and fight it out with Mercedes for the title, he may well decide to stick around for a little while longer.

Such a scenario in which Hamilton continues his long-term affiliation with Mercedes would make Ferrari’s decision that much easier. Despite flashes of intra-team tensions between its drivers that flared up throughout 2019, Ferrari knows it has a fast and formidable pairing in Vettel and Leclerc.

A Hamilton-Ferrari 2021 collaboration might result in Vettel trading seats with the Briton at Mercedes, or in him retiring altogether.

Ferrari will also be paying close attention to any developments with Max Verstappen’s future, while the likes of Valtteri Bottas, who earned another one-year deal at Mercedes for 2020, or Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, could emerge as potential candidates to replace Vettel if required.

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KIZZ YOP IS SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR / OWNER OF YELLOW DUCK NEWS AGENCY AND COLUMNIST FOR THIS SITE.

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