While many believe, Ferrari's decision to not extend Sebastian Vettel a contract for the 2021 season came from its rather new team principle Mattia Binotto, and the German's mistakes in 2017, 2018 and 2019, more than meets the eye. It turns out John Elkann, Ferrari's chairman and current interim CEO was the person who sealed the German's fate. Binotto was in fact of the view that Ferrari should retain the four-time world champion considering a new car was being developed for a new formula, his experience could've proven pivotal.
But Elkann whose family has a controlling stake in both Ferrari and FCA dismissed the idea of the renewal for Vettel after having had a few conversations with the German, who was also outperformed by rookie Charles Leclerc who has now been anointed the figurative number 1 driver slot. Before the start of the 2020 season, it was announced that Vettel was leaving Ferrari and was being replaced by McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jr.
Vettel joined Ferrari in the 2015 season
In line with the decision to end Vettel's 6-year stint with the team, Elkann even told LA Gazzetta Dello Sport, the philosophy behind the signing of Sainz. “In the last ten years, we have had champions like Alonso and Vettel who have been world champions. But it's harder to rebuild a cycle and ask for patience from those who have already won than those who have the future ahead of them. We're laying the foundations to build something important and you can tell by the length of the contract we signed with Charles [Leclerc]. Leclerc and [Carlos] Sainz will take up residence in Maranello, staying as close as possible to our engineers. The new car will also be born from their contribution," said Ferrari interim CEO.
Carlos Sainz Jr is the son of legendary rallying driver Carlos Sainz Sr
Now, Sainz will join Leclerc to revive Ferrari from its most disappointing performance in F1 in 40 years with its P6 in constructors. Ferrari is hoping to be more competitive with a more powerful engine for the 2021 season but it still feels that it will not be able to challenge the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.