Vettel 'surprised' by Ferrari decision, says he was not offered new deal

Sebastian Vettel wears a red hat and red facemask in front of a blue background

Sebastian Vettel has driven for Ferrari since 2015

German racer Sebastian Vettel celebrated his 33rd birthday at the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday.

Disaster for Sebastian Vettel as he exits Austrian GP qualifying in Q2.

Ferrari said before the race weekend that they had discovered a problem with their vehicle since it ran in pre-season testing, prompting a "significant change of direction in terms of development".

Ferrari Formula 1 team boss Mattia Binotto insisted Sebastian Vettel was the team's "first choice" for 2021 and explained that the change in circumstances caused by the COVID-19 crisis led the team to opt for a change of driver.

But their lack of pace in Austria was even worse than they were expecting - the vehicle was not only a second off the Mercedes, but it was also almost a second slower than Ferrari had been at the same track previous year, when Leclerc was on pole position.

Why are Ferrari so slow?

Ferrari, who last won a drivers' title with Raikkonen in 2007, were overall runners-up last season but the legality of their engine was questioned.

A Formula One car comes round a corner at Albert Park
Sebastian Vettel has recorded 14 Grand Prix wins with Ferrari

With the coronavirus crisis resulting in F1 pushing back their radical rule changes for 2021 - meaning you will have few changes to the current cars for two seasons - Ferrari made a decision to alter their strategy again.

Ferrari already has confirmed it will not bring an upgrade to the two Austria events which will start the 2020 season.

So that means their Barcelona spec is now their Austria spec.

"We didn't take much notice of the teams around us to be honest, as it's always hard to predict what sort of fuel loads people are running". "I think I have a very competitive nature, I have achieved a lot in the sport, I'm motivated and willing to achieve more. It was good for us all to be back at the track and it was good to see that the team got up to speed fairly quickly and had no problems running through all the procedures", Vettel said. "It's a long race, I think in race trim we are always better and we will try to make some good ground and score some good points". "We still have this question mark, and we still need to wait for qualifying to be sure of what we say even though we are 99 per cent sure we will be struggling more than previous year". Unfortunately this is where we are at this time.

"If I look at qualifying, compared to the pole, we are missing a second - that's three-tenths in cornering, but then there is still seven-tenths on the straights".

"But I believe everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them".

Unlike two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who is open to an F1 return next season after quitting following the 2018 campaign, Vettel said his possible exit from the sport wouldn't be temporary. As a result, the auto which raced on Sunday was effectively the same as the one it used in the final days of preseason testing.

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