David Coulthard has come up with a surprising suggestion for where Sebastian Vettel should go next, following confirmation that the German driver will end his stint at Ferrari at the end of 2020.
Vettel’s place at Maranello will be taken by Carlos Sainz, with Daniel Ricciardo moving from Renault to take over from Sainz at McLaren.
The big outstanding question in this game of F1 musican chairs is where Vettel will end up – assuming he decides he wants to continue racing in 2021 and not opt for early retirement.
While Red Bull has effectively slammed the door on suggestions that the four-time world champion could return to Milton Keynes, Vettel has been linked with a move to Renault or even an outside chance of a seat at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton.
But former F1 driver turned television commentator and pundit David Coulthard has suggested that the current Racing Point team could be a better option for Vettel, once it rebrands as Aston Martin next season.
“The respect is there for Sebastian, he’s been a great asset to F1,” said the Scot, who drove for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull during 14 years in the sport.
“The negotiating wheel has gone against him for whatever reason,” he added in a interview for the F1 Nation podcast from the official Formula1.com website.
“Right now Sebastian has to be in a position where he’s re-evaluating his negotiating demands,” Coulthard continued. “Only Sebastian knows whether he’s already decided he’s retiring.
“If that was about status and money and he wants to race then he’s made a mistake,” he said. “He now only has Mercedes as a reasonably safe bet of performance before getting into the unknown of Renault.
“Are Renault – with the failed experiment in paying a large amount of money to Daniel – are they able to sell that into the board that there should be another large amount of money to someone that’s effectively been released by Ferrari?
“Or does he go to Aston Martin, take a shareholding, and take another phase of his career? [It] could be an option, a bit left-field, [but] I used to take the view that if you could imagine it in F1 it was possible.
“Lawrence Stroll has got big designs of future success for Aston Martin,” he noted. “[Seb has an] unbelievable turn of speed and is still somebody who is capable of winning races and championships.”
“At this stage of his career he could well be a brilliant asset to a team like that in terms of knowledge and experience of Red Bull, in terms of knowledge and experience of Ferrari.”
As for those rumours that Vettel was in talks with Mercedes, Coulthard suspected that team principal Toto Wolff might just be playing a canny business game as part of contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton
“As much as they love Lewis, Mercedes and Toto are business people, not charities,” Coulthard pointed out.
“It’s not, ‘Lewis we love you so much here’s a blank cheque, write the number in and we’ll work out how we’ll manage to pay you that’.
“They’ll want to pay him the minimum they can to allow more money to invest in the business and he will of course want the maximum,” he added, suggesting that talking with Vettel at the same time might be one way of tempering Hamilton’s contract demands.
“There’s so many interesting things that come into play,” Coulthard concluded.
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