Sebastian Vettel has indicated he could have a new deal done with Ferrari before the Formula One season eventually starts after being put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four-times world champion is out of contract at the end of 2020 but is keen to stay.
Ferrari have said Vettel remains their first choice to partner young Monegasque Charles Leclerc but reports in Italy have suggested they want an answer by the end of April to ensure potential replacements are still available.
“I think one of the key things right now for everyone, whether you are in sports or not, is to remain patient,” Vettel told reporters on a conference call. “It obviously depends when we will have the first race and there is a high chance that we will have to make a decision before… because at the moment it looks like there will be no race before June or even July.”
The German was coy when asked whether the next contract would be for just one year now that major 2021 rule changes had been delayed to 2022.
The German said that even if the season was reduced to 10 races from a planned 22 it would still be a valid championship. “A season is a season whether its 10, 15, 20 or 25 races,” he said. “You still have to be the one who is most consistent.
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“Obviously with fewer races every race is more important but in the end the championship would still be the championship. Ten races would still be a lot of things to get right.”
VETTEL TAKES STEP TOWARDS VIRTUAL RACING
Sebastian Vettel has never been one for social media or had much time for esports but even the four-times world champion has shifted his stance, however slightly, under Formula One’s coronavirus lockdown.
Although the 32-year-old Ferrari driver is still not remotely tempted by Twitter or Instagram, he has acquired a gaming rig. Just how much the German uses it remains to be seen. Rivals, including his Monegasque teammate Charles Leclerc, who has thrown himself enthusiastically into virtual racing in the absence of any real-life track action, can probably rest easy though.
“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,” Vettel told reporters when asked in an online media session about any interest in esports.
“I have heard a lot of things about so I thought I might get one and try it, but I need to still set it up properly,” he added.
Leclerc, a two-times winner last season who also finished ahead of Vettel in the standings, won the virtual Vietnamese Grand Prix this month on his debut in the new Formula One esports race series.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon, McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have also kept their hands in online as they wait for the season to start.