Sebastian Vettel signs new three-year Ferrari contract

Sebastian Vettel
Vettel made his Ferrari debut by finishing third in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has signed a new contract to stay with Ferrari until the end of 2020.

The four-time champion has been at the team since 2015 and has helped build them up to be title contenders this year after a difficult few seasons.

Vettel is leading the championship by 14 points from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with nine races remaining.

The move ends speculation that the 30-year-old could be considering a move to Mercedes in the near future.

A statement from Ferrari said the team had "extended its technical and racing agreement" with Vettel "for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 racing seasons of the F1 world championship".

vettel

In Ferrari's time-honoured style, the statement contained no quotes or further information from the driver or the team.

Ferrari announced earlier this week they had retained Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for one more season.

Vettel had made it clear his preference was for the Finn to stay.

The in-race incidents and results of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the eleven races of the 2017 season - Hamilton has four wins, Vettel has had three
How the title battle has unfolded so far

Vettel's decision is likely to be followed by confirmation from Mercedes that they will retain Valtteri Bottas for at least another season alongside Hamilton.

The Finn was signed on a one-year deal to replace world champion Nico when after the German retired from F1 after winning the title last year.

Hamilton is contracted to Mercedes until the end of 2018.

Later, after qualifying second to title rival Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, Vettel said: "I love this team and the people who work for this brand," adding: "In a way, it was a no-brainer to continue. We haven't yet achieved what we wanted to achieve. But things are looking pretty good and obviously we have a long road ahead of us."

Asked whether he had talks with Mercedes over the summer, he said: "I have been around in the paddock for a while so I know people and it's only natural you talk, but it has never been more than chatting," he said. "I have been talking for a while with Ferrari. My intention was to stay."

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: "There were zero discussions with Sebastian about a contract."

Michael Schumacher
The seven-time world champion is still recovering following a skiing accident during Christmas 2013, and has not been seen publicly since

Vettel added that he had signed the deal at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix and talked of the inspiration he has following in the footsteps of his childhood hero Michael Schumacher.

"We haven't succeeded. The mission is still ongoing. I want to win in red. We talked about inspiration earlier, about Michael, who was mostly dressed in red, he won most of his races and championships in red.

"I don't want to step in his footsteps. The whole generation of the Ferrari team today was to leave their own footsteps but certainly there is a huge inspiration. Something that for me is now the biggest challenge and dream I have. It's what I want to achieve."

Sebastian Vettel
A young - very young - Sebastian Vettel in Brazil during 2006
Sebastian Vettel
Shocking the whole sport winning his first race for Toro Rosso at Monza in 2008
Sebastian Vettel
Clinching his fourth world title in India in 2013

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