Scuderia Ferrari’s had a rough go so far in 2016, failing to meet their goal of early wins and struggling to consistently beat the Red Bull team, let alone the dominant Mercedes-AMG Petronas squad. There’s still time left for the Maranello-based team to turn things around, but if they don’t, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thinks Sebastian Vettel could jump ship.
Speaking to Germany’s Sport Bild, Horner, Vettel’s boss during his five-year tenure at Red Bull Racing, said he could see the German switch to Mercedes for 2018. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are locked into contracts with the Silver Arrows until the end of the 2018 season (with the latter signing an extension this week), so if he were to make the switch, it would likely be for the 2019 F1 season.
Horner also said he thinks the constant pressure from Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne to deliver good results is stressing out Vettel.
“I know from personal experience that he has to feel good in order to perform well,” he said. “And I’m not sure whether he likes the pressure from Sergio Marchionne.
“I can imagine that Seb will switch to Mercedes in 2018 if he doesn’t start going forward with Ferrari.”
The field has the chance to close the gap to Mercedes following the 2017 F1 rule changes. If Ferrari can capitalize on the opportunity, Vettel is unlikely to jump ship, but they will have pressure from not only Red Bull and Mercedes, but possibly newfound competition from McLaren and Renault, as well.