Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday that Ferrari had not offered him a contract to stay with them beyond this season, adding that their split, announced in May, was clearly not by mutual consent.
In a controlled official pre-race video news conference ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, the four-time world champion German driver added that he was keen to join a rival team if he could find “the right package”.
Vettel said he was surprised when Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto called him to say his services were no longer required after 2020.
“It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from Mattia and when he told me that there was no further intention for the team to continue,” he said.
“We never got into any discussions. There was never an offer on the table and, therefore, there was no sticking point.”
In a statement, Ferrari had said the parting of the ways was mutual.
Vettel, who has been linked with possible moves to Mercedes, Renault and the new Aston Martin-Racing Point project, added that he is now hoping to find a new team.
“Obviously, I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future,” he said. “I think I have a very competitive nature. I have achieved a lot in the sport. I’m motivated and willing to achieve more.
“To do so, I need the right package and the right people around me so that’s what I’m looking out for at the moment. If the right opportunity should arise then it is quite clear. But, if that’s not the case, then I’ll probably have to look out for something else.”
Vettel won all of his four titles with Red Bull as an outstanding young tyro in his early career before joining Ferrari in 2015.
In recent years, he has been regarded as a leader and spokesman for the drivers. He made clear he is serious also about leaving the sport if he cannot find a new seat.
“I am of the conviction that if you are prepared to say ‘let’s shut the door’ then you should be prepared to shut that door and not shut it and expect it to open again.”
Vettel found himself under pressure from teammate Charles Leclerc in 2019. The Monaco driver won two races to Vettel’s one last season and finished a place above him in the championship.
“I think, first of all, you have to obviously say that from the day that I joined, we’ve tried everything together to fight for the championship which I think is what we have done on several occasions. We did not win the championship,” added Vettel.
“In that regard, looking back also, I have failed, we have failed.”
“In the end, it’s quite simple. We were not quick enough, our package was not good enough, and, as a team, we were not as strong as Mercedes.”