Persistent speculation that Sebastian Vettel has already signed the paperwork to guarantee a move to the Silver Arrows next season won’t be officially confirmed…however Niki Lauda has not bothered to dampen ongoing reports that the four-times champ has a deal with Mercedes.
Asked about Vettel, Lauda told Auto Bild: “He’s the best at the moment. He knows what he wants, he knows the points where he has to find something within himself to get the maximum performance.
“Just an incredible guy,” added Lauda.
It was talk not guaranteed to shore up Valtteri Bottas’s self-confidence. Bottas is on a one-year deal.
A day later, Lauda had changed his tune a little. “Bullshit,” he replied to Sky News television when asked could Vettel land at Mercedes. “Makes no sense. He’s winning at Ferrari; why would he change?”
TV chatter Eddie Jordan, the well-connected former F1 team owner, has also suggested Vettel is in talks with Mercedes, telling Sport Bild: “Of course they’re talking with Vettel. They need to be.”
The grapevine has been abuzz with rumours that should Vettel switch from red to silver, then Max Versappen will be lured to Ferrari.
Over at Red Bull, tough-talking Helmut Marko has pre-empted such speculations declaring that the Dutch rising star won’t be switching to Ferrari or anyone else, simply because there is no performance “get-out” clause in his contract.
Even if Verstappen is tempted, and this year’s Ferrari is a better car than his Red Bull Renault, he is locked in tight. “If we do not release him, he cannot switch to Ferrari,” Marko added.