The Arguments For And Against Every Contender For Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari Seat

14 May 2020
Racing, Cars, Formula One, F1, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Self Isolation, Lockdown
With reports already emerging that Ferrari has found its replacement for the German world champ, we make the case for each of the favourites

While coronavirus has brought the world of F1 to a temporary black flag, the pandemic has seemingly been unable to prevent the early onset of Formula 1's annual silly season, during which contract negotiations, salaries and potential driver swaps become the talk of the paddock.

And after 6 years of trying and largely failing to ingratiate himself into the same (but different) team that carried Michael Schumacher to seven Formula 1 world championships, Sebastian Vettel has made the call to leave Ferrari at the end of 2020. Thus, the biggest open-seat story of the year has already kicked off before the green light has been shown on the first race.

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So what does that mean for the future of Ferrari? Currently all eyes are on Daniel Ricciardo, who even though he signed with Renault at the start of last year, has been consistently linked with a Ferrari drive. But would it make sense for the prancing horse, and who are Ricciardo's biggest challengers to the open seat? We thought we'd take a look at the pros and cons of each option below.

Carlos Sainz

The Argument For

The Smooth Operator's case for the Ferrari seat is perhaps the most comprehensive of the three main contenders - so much so that reports have already emerged from Italy suggesting that the Spaniard may well be announced in the next couple of days. Sainz is a proven talent, having finished top of the midfield last year at McLaren and secured his first podium at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, and probably stands as the biggest unused talent in the sport right now never to get a crack at a race-winning team.

Sainz also has experience in working with talented rookies, having gotten on famously well with Lando Norris, and is more likely to accept working in a back-up role to golden boy Charles Leclerc, even if Ferrari will be expecting him to challenge for race wins whenever he can. He'll also be significantly cheaper to hire than Ricciardo.

The Argument Against

Sainz's only real downside is his lack of proven race-winning ability, which isn't necessarily his fault. He's now firmly established as one of F1's out-and-out quickest talents, but he's never had the chance to show whether he can convert this to a title challenge given the right car. This makes Sainz an inherent gamble, whichever way you look at it. It all depends on how much Ferrari likes the odds.

Daniel Ricciardo

The Argument For

It's fair to say that for both Ricciardo and his fans, his decision to move to Renault and the season that followed amounted to something of an anti-climax, and with nothing on the horizon to suggest that the French team will be challenging for championships any time soon, you'd think that Ricciardo would throw everything but the kitchen sink at Ferrari to try and convince him to sign them.

But what would Ferrari get? The simple answer is that he's probably the fastest available driver, and the only one with considerable experience in a race-winning car. In Ricciardo, you get a proven race-winner, a proven quick qualifier, and someone with a proven ability to get on with just about any team-mate. He's even part-Italian.

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The Argument Against

The problem of hiring a driver with Ricciardo's pedigree is that you get the expectation of maintaining his status alongside it. Ricciardo jumped ship from Red Bull at the end of 2018 largely because Renault offered him a route to true number one status. After a final season being largely overshadowed by Max Verstappen, it's unlikely he's going to want to settle back in to another scenario where he's on equal standing with a comparative rookie, and Ferrari aren't particularly keen on using joint-number one drivers either.

Antonio Giovinazzi

The Argument For

It would be romantic, wouldn't it? A long-time Ferrari Academy talent and a true Italian to light a flame in the hearts of the tifosi, Giovinazzi would seem, spiritually at least, a perfect fit at Maranello. If he signed, he'd be the first born-and-bred Italian to drive a Ferrari in anger since 2009, and given that he's retained his race seat at Alfa Romeo for now, it's clear that Ferrari sees something in his talents.

The Argument Against

If Ferrari do in fact see Giovinazzi as a future world champ, he's done little to convince the rest of the F1 paddock that he is so. His debut year with Alfa Romeo was unfruitful to say the least, as he finished the year in 17th place in the same car that Kimi Raikkonen drove to 12th. This would put him in a clear number two role if he were brought in alongside Leclerc, but you have to question whether or not he'd even have the pace to challenge the Monagesque hot-shot.

Given how short on time Ferrari are to find a replacement, it's unlikely that the shortened F1 season will give Antonio adequate time or scope to make a case for the seat.

Via GQ Australia