Vettel: No timeline for contract talks, no plans for sim racing


A few weeks back, according to whichever headline you read, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was looking likely to take a significant pay cut, whilst lining up moves to McLaren, Renault or Mercedes.

Fact is, the German, who is in the final year of his contract with Ferrari, would like to remain with the Italian team, after all, there is unfinished business. However, while insisting that there is no urgency in agreeing a new deal, it could be agreed before the season finally gets underway... whenever that might be.

"By the looks of it, the first Grand Prix is not due for a while, unfortunately," he told members of the media in a video conference, "but it gives us more time to cover more ground.

"One of the key things for everyone, no matter whether you are in sports or not, is to remain patient," he continued.

"Looking at myself, it obviously depends on when we will have the first race. There is a chance we will have to make a decision before there will be that first race, and at the moment it looks like there will be no race before June or even July. We are all waiting.

"The main priority at first was to ensure that we dealt with the virus situation in the right way, and therefore everything was put on hold. I can imagine that was the same everywhere, and it was the same for us.

"We will make progress, but I don't think there's a real timeline. Whether that's before the first race or not, depends on when we have that first race."

Pressed on the claims of a pay cut, he made it clear that this was a matter that would remain - much like the proposed races - behind closed doors.

"I've always kept whatever decisions I made on this front with the team and myself," he said. "And it will be the same this time.

"So I'm not going to use this argument or this point at this time as as a sort of image polish or anything like that. I think what I've decided to do in the past I've done in quiet and it will be the same now."

With the sport finding itself in such an unusual situation, last week, Ferrari team boss made clear that flexibility is the key. Vettel agrees.

It is a sport that is carried out in the open, but we have a lot of people that come to watch our races," said the GErman. "We need to make sure that as much as we are taking care of ourselves, we are taking care of the public.

"There are a lot of options you can think of, in terms of how to get going again, what's the best format to start racing again, whether it's without fans, with fans, ghost races.

"Nobody likes to race in front of empty grandstands. I think it feels a bit odd," he admitted. "The question is, when is the right time to start racing again and whether a ghost race could be held a lot sooner rather than a race the way we are used to it. I don't know.

"What we would all like is to get back to normal, but not just for Formula 1's sake, but for everybody's sake, the whole world. As I've said previously in this regard, the best prescription is to be patient.

"Probably, at the very beginning, the first couple of races will be a bit compromised compared to what we are used to. Hopefully not too much because we want to race in a way that we are all familiar with, meaning in front of fans and with an atmosphere, and so on."

Asked about the strain on drivers and personnel of 18 or 19 races in just four or five months, Vettel said: "As drivers, we are at the lucky end. Races and race weekends can be tough. Whether they will change the format, losing a day of the weekend, I don't know. We have that option.

"The limit will be the team, the staff, in terms of the mechanics. It's not about getting the cars from one place to another, that can be done quite quickly, but obviously you need to give enough rest in between to the people.

"There are a lot of questions still to be asked, and to have an answer to. I think we will probably have more races, it will be more packed, but I think the limit should be the people, and that should be respected as well.

"Every now and then they will need a break, so it's not realistic to have 10 back-to-back race weekends."

At a time virtual racing is the only alternative to the real thing, Vettel, who shuns social media, admits that he is not convinced.

"The truth is I didn't have a simulator until a couple of days ago, so I have not been tempted because I didn't have the chance.

"But I have heard a lot of things about it," he adds, "so I thought I might get one and try it. I still need to set it up properly.

"Generally, I don't foresee a career in sim racing," he admits. "I think it's more something to try for fun. I grew up with some of the stuff and I've been playing some games, but to be honest, since I've had kids, it's not the first thing on my to-do list, so I will see how much time there will be.

"I'm aware that some people take it very seriously and spend a lot of time there but I also enjoy doing other things," he added. "I consider it a bit more of a fun thing.

"Racing, for me, is still in the real world outside, that's where the focus lies."

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Published: 17/04/2020
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