Fer­rari ace cagey about talks of Mercedes move

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FER­RARI’S For­mula One cham­pi­onship leader Se­bas­tian Vet­tel made light on Thurs­day of me­dia spec­u­la­tion that he might move to ri­vals Mercedes AMG Petronas in 2018.

“I didn’t know (about the rumours),” the Ger­man said at a news con­fer­ence ahead of to­mor­row’s Span­ish Grand Prix. “Is it com­ing from Italy?

“Have you asked the Ital­ians? They seem to know more than I do,” he added.

Vet­tel said his fo­cus was on this sea­son, but the ab­sence of an out­right de­nial may do lit­tle to dampen the rumours.

Vet­tel, as well as team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen, is out of con­tract at the end of the sea­son while Mercedes hired Valt­teri Bot­tas at short no­tice to re­place cham­pion Nico Ros­berg af­ter his shock re­tire­ment.

Mercedes have been the dom­i­nant team in For­mula One for the past three sea­sons and lead the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings af­ter four of this years 20 races.

Vet­tel, a four-time world cham­pion, is 13 points clear of Mercedes’ triple ti­tle win­ner Lewis Hamil­ton af­ter the Ger­man won in Aus­tralia and Bahrain.

Hamil­ton won in China and Bot­tas in Rus­sia, his first vic­tory in For­mula One. With so many seats on the grid po­ten­tially avail­able next sea­son, rumours are swirling about who might be go­ing where.

Driv­ers are of­ten happy to fuel them if it strength­ens their po­si­tion, while it is not un­com­mon for teams to en­cour­age such spec­u­la­tion to try and un­set­tle ri­vals.

Asked who he would like as a team­mate and whether he would wel­come the re­turn of his pre­de­ces­sor, Fer­nando Alonso, now with strug­gling McLaren, Vet­tel grinned: “In the end of the day, I’m sign­ing my con­tract. I’m not sign­ing other peo­ple’s.”

“It’s not my de­ci­sion but I’m ready to race who­ever comes along.

Dou­ble-cham­pion Alonso will also be out of con­tract at the end of 2017. He has said he wants to be in a win­ning car next year.

Vet­tel said: “I think the way we (Fer­rari) are set up right now, we find our­selves very happy and the fo­cus is on this year de­spite the fact for next year there is noth­ing on pa­per.” Reuters

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