Vettel's Ferrari exit 'foreseeable' but his F1 retirement would be a 'disaster'

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Ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone believes Sebastian Vettel's departure from Ferrari after this year was "foreseeable".

Last week it was announced the German would be leaving the Italian team after six seasons with both sides no longer having the "common desire" to stay together.

Ecclestone has been one of the more vocal figures on Vettel's future, suggesting Ferrari had fallen "in love" with Charles Leclerc and claiming Seb would retire after 2020 well before it became the more realistic prospect it is today.

Even Mark Webber suggested the 89-year-old had some influence on his former teammate's decision to leave and when his exit was confirmed Bernie wasn't surprised.

“It was foreseeable that Sebastian would part with Ferrari,” Ecclestone told

“It was never the same magic between him and Ferrari as between Michael Schumacher and the Italians.

“The team and its team bosses never stood behind Vettel as much as they did for Schumacher.”

As for what comes next, the 32-year-old has been linked to Mercedes, with parent company Daimler reportedly keen to have a German driver alongside Lewis Hamilton.

There is of course also the possibility of at least a year on the sidelines or retiring altogether.

“That ultimately is his choice," Vettel's former team boss at Red Bull, Christian Horner, said on Sky Sports.

“He’s still relatively young, he’s in his early 30s. If he chose to stay, he’s obviously still very competitive.

“That’s entirely down to him, and nobody will know that apart from Sebastian what his choices are. He’s got strong values, he’s got strong integrity, and I’m sure he will have thought long and hard about this.

“Whether he chooses to continue or not, he’s achieved a huge amount during his time in F1. Four World Championships, he’s one of the most successful drivers of all-time.”

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Former F1 driver Hans Joachim-Stuck believes retirement is a strong likelihood, however.

“Ultimately, only he knows whether and how things will go on,” Autoweek quotes him as telling ServusTV. “But he will not sit in a second-class car.

“He certainly doesn’t need that. Then again, there are not so many options. Changing to Mercedes? Nobody knows what’s going on there.

“I can imagine that Vettel has really enjoyed this break at home with his family. He’s not a character like (Fernando) Alonso who does absolutely everything," he added.

“If Vettel doesn’t see a good alternative, then I consider the chance that he will stop to be relatively high. That would be an absolute disaster.”