Sebastian Vettel 'not running away' from Red Bull

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing looks at his car at the end of qualifying at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka
Sebastian Vettel is expected to join Ferrari for 2015

Sebastian Vettel says his decision to leave Red Bull has not been influenced by the performance of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel, a four-time world champion, trails team-mate Ricciardo by 57 points in this year's drivers' championship.

German Vettel, whose expected move to Ferrari is yet to be confirmed, said: "I'm not leaving because I don't like the team or individuals. I'm not running away from anything.

"The voice inside, the hunger to do something new, was bigger."

Sebastian Vettel: Feels like right time to leave Red Bull

Red Bull announced Vettel's decision to leave on Saturday morning at the Japanese Grand Prix, with the 27-year-old informing team principal Christian Horner of his decision the previous night.

Vettel has refused to confirm he is to join Ferrari, who approached him once they had been told by their current number one Fernando Alonso that he wanted to leave.

"It is a tough step after such a long time together with Red Bull," said Vettel, who has been backed by the soft drinks manufacturer's motorsport programme since he was 12.

"After so many fantastic years, I did and still am enjoying my time, but at some stage in life you want to do something else, something new. It is not the first time I have been approached but it felt like the right time."

Vettel, here winning for Toro Rosso in 2008, will be leaving the Red Bull "family" after 15 years

Vettel said he had not decided to leave because Red Bull have struggled for competitiveness this season in the face of Mercedes' domination.

"It is not a decision based on current results," he said. "A decision like that does not happen overnight. It is always a big step when a relationship like that comes to an end. But there is nothing negative in the air. That is what made the decision so difficult for me."

And he said the desire to become champion with another team was also not a major factor.

"There are plenty of things people say a true great driver should achieve in his life and so on," he said.

Vettel leaving 'emotional' for Horner

Vettel's decision to leave comes in the midst of a period of major change at Red Bull.

Their design chief Adrian Newey, regarded as F1's pre-eminent designer, has stepped back from his full-time role on F1 into an advising and mentoring capacity while he concentrates on other projects, believed to be Britain's America's Cup bid.

And Vettel's long-time race engineer Guillaume Roquelin, has been moved into a different, more senior role.

Japanese Grand Prix qualifying results

Japanese Grand Prix coverage details

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner smiles as he speaks with Adrian Newey, the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer and Sebastian Vettel.
Adrian Newey (left) designed all of Sebastian Vettel's championship-winning cars at Red Bull