Italian-Canadian executive and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has recently confirmed speculation that the Maranello team is strongly taking into consideration the option to keep both its current drivers for the 2018 Formula One season.
Italian sources had reported that, having made a new deal for Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen a condition in order to extend his deal, Sebastian Vettel was now ready to ink a contract beyond 2017. The deal will most likely be officially announced at Scuderia Ferrari’s home race at Monza, which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of next month. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne was making one of his visits to the paddock in Hungary, and he admitted that Kimi Raikkonen’s sportsmanship in not attacking Sebastian Vettel’s lead had pleased him:
“He was great. We are a single team at Maranello, all working together.” – Sergio Marchionne said, as reported by the Italian media. When asked to comment on reports that Sebastian and Kimi will be kept in place for the 2018 Formula 1 championship, the Italian-Canadian added: “It is more than 50% probable. They are great together so it would be a risk to change the game now. Let’s see if we can keep them for 2018. I think they want to stay. We should be able to announce our drivers at Monza, but for the moment nothing is signed and we are talking to the drivers. The agreement may be close.” – the Ferrari president explained, according to Tuttosport.
During the last few weeks there have been many rumours stating that Sebastian Vettel did in fact sign a ‘pre-agreement’ with Mercedes last winter, and that is why he was not able to negotiate with Scuderia Ferrari until the end of July: “I don’t know how to answer you.” – Sergio Marchionne said, when asked by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera – “If he does not want to stay, then we will find a different solution and life goes on, because this is Ferrari. But if I look at Sebastian, then in a lot of ways he is already more Italian than many of us!”
Asked if Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton would be the logical ‘different solution’ in the event that Vettel does leave, the Italian-Canadian executive answered: “Ferrari is everyone’s dream and ending a career here would be a privilege. But so far we have not gone with him and I do not want to talk about the future because we have two great drivers already.” – Sergio Marchionne concluded.