Sebastian Vettel has until the end of April to respond to Ferrari after they offered the four-time F1 champion a new contract. Vettel’s long-term future is uncertain with his current deal expiring at the end of the coming 2020 season.
Team principal Mattia Binotto has repeatedly insisted the German is Ferrari’s first-choice option to partner Charles Leclerc next year.
But F1’s most illustrious team are known to be eyeing up potential replacements, with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz foremost among them.
Antonio Giovinazzi is an alternative for Ferrari and he remains linked to them despite driving for F1 rivals Alfa Romeo.
The Italian branch of Motorsport.com report Vettel is under some pressure to give Ferrari an answer in the next two weeks.
The 32-year-old has been offered a contract which would see him stay with Ferrari for a further 12 months, but on less money than he currently earns.
It is anticipated that Vettel will request a two-year deal in order to accept the pay cut and put pen to paper on fresh terms.
Contract negotiations have been brought forward this year with the first 10 Grands Prix of the season cancelled and teams set for a hectic period once racing gets going.
That means Ricciardo and Sainz will also have to inform Renault and McLaren respectively of their intentions as soon as possible.
Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul has left the door open for Ricciardo to stay with the French F1 team, with his deal on course to expire in the winter.
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McLaren, meanwhile, are eager to keep Sainz out of Ferrari’s clutches and they have offered him a new contract to try and ensure he’ll continue driving next to Lando Norris in 2021.
Vettel, who has been linked with moves to McLaren and Renault in recent weeks, endured his worst season yet with Ferrari last year.
And he’s previously indicated he will be prioritising his happiness over money in his next round of contract talks.
“You know, it depends on what is really important to you, what guides you in making decisions,” Vettel said. “I don’t want to point the finger at anyone, mind you: if money motivates you, then battle for that, there are many men of sport and business driven by earnings.
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“I think the real question to ask is: when does the money get enough? [The pursuit of more money] is not an aspect of Formula 1 alone.
“Here we are in a ‘circus’ that has been a bit lost, a lot of money is circulating and money tends to ruin people. And let’s go back to what I said a little while ago: you have to see where you have your limit.
“At some point, money stops being the most important thing, but there is always the desire to enjoy what you are doing.
“Ours is a job that few can do, and I believe that all of us in helmets and overalls should always to show that you appreciate it, to be happy to do it, to enjoy a time that a little while ago we said was not infinite. This is the key for me.”
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