Sebastian Vettel has signed a new contract to stay with Ferrari until the end of 2020.
The four-time champion has been at the team since 2015 and has helped build them up to be title contenders this year after a difficult few seasons.
Vettel is leading the championship by 14 points from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with nine races remaining.
The move ends speculation that Vettel could be considering a move to Mercedes in the near future. Since joining Ferrari ahead of the 2015 season, Vettel has scored seven wins and 28 podiums, and currently leads this year’s world championship by 14 points.
To save Ferrari’s embarrassment in terms of Vettel not wanting to commit himself to the project, they will say it’s a multi-year deal but that doesn’t mean that we know absolutely everything within the contract and that Vettel will not be able to get out of that if and when he wants, because 2019 is the game,” commented Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz.
“2019 is when everything is going to be changing and that’s when all the big moves are going to be in the transfer market.”
Ferrari announced earlier this week that Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s current team-mate, had signed a one-year extension to stay for 2018.
Vettel has been linked with Mercedes throughout the year although title Lewis Hamilton has expressed his doubts Vettel would be willing to accept equal status with him at the Silver Arrows.
“I think it’s highly unlikely that [Seb] will be here,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think he wants to be my team-mate.
“I know Seb doesn’t want to be my team-mate. He wouldn’t be in the position he is now in his team, in terms of how the team operates, if he was here.”
Lauda also suggested Vettel’s talks with Mercedes were part of a negotiating position with Ferrari.
“Every driver if he is clever talks to more one team so that when he negotiates he is in a better position. I think that is what he did”.