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Jenson Button: It’s ‘madness” that Ferrari let Vettel go

Some saw the separation between Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari inevitable, but is Jenson Button right to criticize the move?

Jenson Button
Jenson Button. Via McLaren Media

Some saw the separation between Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari inevitable, but is Jenson Button right to criticize the move?

There were months of negotiating between driver and team. But with no movement to keep them together, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel had a mutual separation. But a former F1 driver, Jenson Button, couldn’t understand why it happened.

The now 40-year old veteran of 306 Formula 1 races said he was “shocked” to hear Vettel was leaving Ferrari. He wondered if it was the team that decided to move on.

“If he was pushed, for me it’s madness,” Button told Sky Sports F1. “There must be more to it. I don’t know if Ferrari [is] going down the route of not wanting two number one drivers or what, but it’s a really strange choice for me, and I’m still shocked that Sebastian [won’t be] in a red car.”

By two number one drivers, Button was talking about Vettel and rising star Charles Leclerc, who came into his own last year. The 22-year old from Monte Carlo had a pair of victories, seven poles, and ten podiums in 21 starts after failing to register anything the season before.

ZERO TITLES IN PREVIOUS FOUR YEARS

Vettel is a four-time champion; however, they came before he joined Ferrari. His failure to deliver even one title likely factored in how the team negotiated. Button called Vettel “one of the all-time greats in Formula 1, adding, “If we never see him again in Formula 1, I’ll be very disappointed.”

It was not as if the German was not producing. In the four years before the coronavirus kept F1 from starting their season, Vettel had 11 wins, 11 pols and 41 podiums in 82 starts. But a lackluster 2019 may have been the reason why Ferrari played hardball in contract talks.

Did they offer less money? Did they want to relegate him to second driver status behind Leclerc? No one knows for sure, but it did not take long for Ferrari to reach out to 25-year old Carlos Sainz and sign him to a reported two-year contract. Whether the team did it intentionally or not, the combination of Sainz and Leclerc is the youngest duo since 1968.

Sainz does not have the resume of Daniel Ricciardo, who signed with McLaren as his replacement. The rumor was Ricciardo would leave Renault to move to Ferrari should Vettel not return. But something happened, and Sainz got the seat instead.

As far as the future for Vettel, that is up in the air. McLaren boss Zak Brown said he was not interested in signing him and that Ricciardo was the team’s number one target to replace Sainz.

“We went after Daniel a couple of years ago and narrowly missed out,” Brown said on Sky F1 Vodcast. “So, we’ve been a fan of Daniel’s for some time.”

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