Daniel Ricciardo or Valterri Bottas are claimed to be next in line if Sebastian Vettel’s seat at Ferrari becomes available.
As rumours of Sebastian Vettel considering an early retirement from Formula 1 continue to go around, Ferrari have reportedly begun to plot a contingency, identifying Daniel Ricciardo and Valterri Bottas as replacements.
Veteran F1 journalist Dan Knutson, writing for AutoAction, claims that Ferrari have begun to “put out informal feelers” to drivers if they need to replace Vettel this winter.
With every passing race, Vettel continues to look increasingly exasperated especially after having the Canadian Grand Prix taken away from him by a controversial 5-second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage over leader Lewis Hamilton.
He has since insisted that he remains committed to seeing out the remainder of his Ferrari contract at the very least, with his deal running until the end of next year.
However, that has apparently not stopped the Scuderia from looking for alternatives, despite team principal Mattia Binotto saying last weekend in Austria that Vettel and Charles Leclerc will be the team’s line-up in 2020.
Bottas’ Mercedes deal expires at the end of 2019, although the Silver Arrows do hold an option to renew it for the following season.
Two victories so far represent a good turnaround for the Finn, who failed to win a single race in 2018. However, he has shown signs of starting to fall off the pace of champion teammate Lewis Hamilton once again in recent weeks, despite finishing ahead in Austria thanks to wing damage on Hamilton’s car.
Mercedes have Esteban Ocon in reserve and George Russell impressing against the odds at Williams were Bottas to go.
Ricciardo was reportedly under consideration by both Mercedes and Ferrari as he wound down his Red Bull deal last year, although neither made him a firm offer and he chose to join Renault instead.
His deal with the French team runs to 2020, although AutoAction’s report repeats previously suggested claims that an offer from one of F1’s major two teams will allow him to go.