Sebastian Vettel set to swap Red Bull for Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel will leave Red Bull at the end of the season and is set to replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari
Red Bull Racing have confirmed that four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel will leave the team at the end of the season.
The announcement came shortly before 02:00 BST, an hour before free practice three for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Vettel set to replace Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
Vettel said: “It is not the first time I have been approached but it felt like the right time.
“I’m not leaving because I don’t like the team or individuals, I’m not running away from anything.
“The voice inside me, the hunger to do something new was bigger. It was not the easiest decision but you have to listen to your heart.”
A Red Bull statement read: “Sebastian Vettel has advised us that he will be leaving Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season.
“We want to warmly thank Sebastian for the incredible role he has played at Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the last six years.
“As we wish Sebastian well in the next stage of his career, we also look to the future with excitement, as the vacancy makes way for the next generation of Red Bull racers.”
After winning his fourth title last season, Vettel has been outperformed so far this season by new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who has picked up three race wins in his first season with the team and sits third in the drivers’ championship.
He has been courted by several teams since storming into Formula 1, often having to fend off rumours that had been lined up by Ferrari, who have struggled in recent years.
Vettel’s record at Red Bull has been exceptional, securing 38 wins, 44 poles and eight world championships, including four drivers’ titles and four constructors’ titles.
The Austrian team have also confirmed his replacement, continuing the tradition of promoting drivers from its junior development programme, of which Vettel and Ricciardo are both graduates.
“The Red Bull Junior Programme has developed some proven talents in recent times, including Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who has excelled in the RB10 and become a three-time Formula 1 race winner in his first season with the team,” the statement added.
“We’re pleased to announce that Daniel will be joined in the team for 2015 by another rising star from the Junior Programme, Daniil Kvyat.”
Vettel’s departure has already set tongues wagging with the permutations being crunched for the resultant driver merry-go-round.
At the time of writing there has been no statement from Ferrari, confirming the signing of Vettel, but the expectation in the paddock is that one should be forthcoming this race weekend.