By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 18/05/20 3:45pm
Jenson Button says he is shocked that Sebastian Vettel is leaving Ferrari – calling it “madness” if it was the team’s decision.
Sky F1’s Jenson Button says it would be “madness” if Ferrari never made an attempt to keep Sebastian Vettel for 2021.
Confirmation of Vettel’s impending Ferrari exit sent shockwaves around the sport last week – with the German to be replaced by Carlos Sainz – and on Monday’s F1 Show Button joined Martin Brundle, Simon Lazenby and Craig Slater to discuss the news, and whose decision it was.
Is Vettel walking, or has he been pushed out by Ferrari?
“My understanding is that he was never made an offer to stay on,” said Slater – which would be much to the surprise of the 2009 world champion.
“If he was pushed, for me it’s madness,” claimed Button. “A four-time world champion.
“I think he showed his speed last year. He had a tough moment in the season when Charles was performing really well and I think that hurt him a little bit mentally. But he came back really strong, and he’s just somebody you would definitely choose to put in your car if you had an F1 team.
“There must be more to it. I don’t know if Ferrari are 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.”
Jenson Button says Carlos Sainz will give Charles Leclerc a run for his money at Ferrari in 2021, and won’t just be a ‘safe pair of hands’.
Vettel, 33 in July, joined Ferrari in 2015 and while he hasn’t added to his four titles in red, his 14 wins rank him third on the Scuderia’s all-time list.
But a number of high-profile errors in recent years hurt both his title challenges and his reputation.
“I think they just fell out of love with each other,” said Brundle. “Sebastian lost confidence that they really could go and take championships in the future and they lost a bit of confidence in him. Too much contact, too many silly incidents. But it does seem bizarre.
“Take away the silly errors and he’s still got tremendous speed, everything that is needed to at least equally fight with [Charles] Leclerc.
“He’s one of the all-time greats in Formula 1 and we can’t dismiss him. If we never see him again in Formula 1, I’ll be very disappointed.”
‘Sainz will give Leclerc a run for his money’
With Vettel leaving, Ferrari will have their youngest driver line-up since 1968 next year as young star Charles Leclerc is joined by Sainz.
“Obviously they’ve now put all the chips on Charles Leclerc for the future, and I don’t think they want two bulls in the same field,” explained Brundle. “They think Sainz will fit in there perfectly as a number one and a half driver. Maybe he’ll be better than that.
“We’ve spoken about the changing of the guard, and the guard has been changed. The young guys are calling the shots, fundamentally. Max [Verstappen] at Red Bull, Charles at Ferrari and they’re filling in those spaces around them.”
Brundle continued: “I think Carlos will handle the pressure there very well. He’ll fit the mould.
Speaking on Monday’s F1 Show, 2009 world champion Jenson Button says his former team McLaren have made the right choice by signing Daniel RIcciardo.
“Would I have taken [Daniel] Ricciardo instead of Sainz? I might just have done. Something’s turned them off about Ricciardo.”
But Button doesn’t necessarily think Sainz will be a typical ‘number two’ – while also having his say on F1’s ‘weird’ 2021 driver market in what is effectively the 2020 off-season.
“If Binotto has gone for Carlos because he thinks he’s a good pair of hands but won’t really give Charles a run for his money, then I think he’s mistaken,” added the former McLaren driver.
“I think Carlos is a winner, he’s like his father. He wants to bring home a championship. So [Binotto] has chosen the wrong person if he just wants a good atmosphere.
“We’ll have to see how it plays out, but it’s just a weird time at the moment. We’ve not seen an F1 car in months and to make driver choices at a point when drivers haven’t been driving is really unusual.
“Normally it’s mid-season and you see how the guys are performing in that year. Vettel could have been four, five wins in at this point in time and then I’m sure the decision would have been very different.”