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Vettel leaving Red Bull for Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel has insisted a poor 2014 season has not prompted him to leave Red Bull and seemingly set up a move to Ferrari.

Staff Reporter
4 October 2014, 2:12pm
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has insisted a poor 2014 season has not prompted him to leave Red Bull and seemingly set up a move to Ferrari.

The 27-year-old has won the last four drivers' championships whilst with Red Bull but a statement circulated early on Saturday morning confirmed the German was leaving.

The current season has proved more challenging for Vettel, who is currently fifth in the drivers' standings going into this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix - 117 points adrift of leader Lewis Hamilton.

With the new regulations and a Renault power unit that has been outclassed by that of Mercedes, as well as new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo picking up three wins to Vettel's none, he will leave Red Bull having relinquished his firm grip on the title.

A second-placed finish in Singapore in the last grand prix is Vettel's best result of the year to date - he has only stood on the podium on two other occasions.

But, having previously won 38 races with Red Bull, Vettel has said his decision to leave is not down to a drop in performance.

"This is not a decision against Red Bull, it is for something else," he said.

"Red Bull did nothing wrong, we part as friends and it has nothing to do with the results even though they are not what we expected.

"I am loyal and I did not breach any contract. I am not running away from anything but there are times in life when you need something new and if there is an opportunity you have to grab it."

Ferrari is almost certainly Vettel's destination as he looks set to replace two-time champion Fernando Alonso at the Italian marque.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Vettel had been made a good offer by Ferrari - but warned his current driver he could end up behind a Red Bull for much of next season.

"Ferrari have made him a very attractive offer," Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"It was a pretty busy evening. Obviously it was pretty emotional. We've had five fantastic years and won eight world championships together.

"Sebastian has thought long and and hard about this and decided that the time is right for him to take on a new challenge.

""I am loyal and I did not breach any contract. I am not running away from anything but there are times in life when you need something new nd if there is an opportunity you have to grab it.""
Sebastian Vettel
"If someone's heart is not 100 per cent in his workplace then it would be wrong to force them to stay...He's a wonderful driver and we've enjoyed six fantastic seasons with him. But he will be a competitor from January 1 and he'll be looking at a Red Bull rear wing for a while."

With Vettel departing, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat will step up to the senior team - the latest of Red Bull's junior drivers to make an impact on the sport.

Vettel himself honed his craft at Toro Rosso with Ricciardo, who admitted he was 'a little surprised' with the news and has also raced with the feeder team. Ricciardo will look to build a good understanding with Russian Kyvat - who Horner described as 'the best option'.

With Vettel seemingly on the verge of joining Ferrari, it is likely that Red Bull's announcement will kick-start a wave of driver changes with several other big names still unsure of their future.

Two-time world champion Alonso has not committed his future to the Italian team and, with Vettel all-but confirmed for 2015, a move elsewhere - most likely back to McLaren - looks likely with the other option seeing the Spaniard take a self-imposed one-year sabbatical from the sport.

That in turn throws into doubt the destiny of 2009 champion Jenson Button, whose deal with McLaren expires at the end of the season.

The Brit has been confident of retaining his seat with the Woking-based team and could yet form a strong partnership with Alonso were McLaren to decide to keep the 34-year-old on when the team switches to Honda engines next year.

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