Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has advised his good friend Sebastian Vettel to take a year off from Formula 1 and observe the sport’s changes before deciding on his future.
The shock announcement of Vettel’s departure from Ferrari at the end of this season has sparked a lot of speculation about the four-time world champion’s next move.
On paper, opportunities exist at Renault and Mercedes for 2021, but there are also good reasons for Vettel not joining either team.
Oddly, the prospect of the German driver taking a sabbatical has seldom been mentioned, but at 32-years-old – two years young than Lewis Hamilton, Vettel could afford to spend 12 months on the sidelines.
And that’s exactly what Ecclestone has advised his friend to do.
“I’ve been talking to him quite a bit and maybe he should take a year off,” said the 89-year-old in an interview with the Evening Standard. “So, come back in 2022 with the rule changes.
“It gives him a chance to wait and see how F1 is going to change. But I think what he’d like to do is drive for Mercedes against Lewis.”
Watching from afar, Ecclestone has taken note of the changes that will sweep F1 from next year, like the introduction of a $145m budget cap.
But Mr. E hasn’t been impressed by the amount of emphasis put on discussions about the cost-cap level.
“It’s been complete rubbish,” he said. “They were messing about over £5million, which is a tiny percentage of their budget, when there’s other things that need to be done.
“When I owned Brabham, we used to spend a lot less than Ferrari and we still won and they didn’t. It’s about the people, not the money.
“The money’s become an ego competition rather than a real competition, one guy just wanting to spend more than the other guy. But again, the public don’t care.”
As for the sport’s truncated 2020 season, Ecclestone reiterated his belief that the entire campaign should have been called off in light of the disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a funny championship, isn’t it?” he said. “You have the Austrian Grand Prix and the next week the same thing but called something else.
“So, you’ll look at the championship, someone wins and you’re not quite sure what they’ve won. And people will forever say that it was a lucky win because it wasn’t really a championship.”