As the 2012 season continues to surprise and entertain, questions are already being asked about the futures of the big drivers. Up until a week ago, Vettel looked one of the more predictable drivers to place in the coming few seasons – why leave Red Bull when they are improving all the time, and still hold comfortably first place in the Constructor’s Championship. However, speculation increased when the possibility of a pre-agreement with Ferrari for the 2014 season emerged, despite the fact that the Red Bull management denied any knowledge of such an agreement.
The next major development is the revelation from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko that there exists a “get out” clause in Vettel’s current contract which gives him the possibility of driving elsewhere 2 years from now. “2013 is fixed for us but, for 2014, there is a performance-related clause in his contract – for him and for the team,” said Marko, “It depends on the championship rankings in 2013 but, if Vettel and Red Bull slip in the drivers’ or constructors’ championship, he could go elsewhere.”
This news, if correct, creates an interesting situation for the rest of the top drivers at the end of the season. If Vettel already has some kind of agreement with Ferrari for 2014 and is poised to move there after next season, then who would take the seat that is expected to become free if Massa’s performance doesn’t dramatically improve this season?
The second Ferrari seat would be a highly sought after position for many drivers, but not if it was merely as a fill in before Vettel arrives. Vettel himself continues to deny that any move is planned, commenting before the Monaco Grand Prix that the journalists clearly have too much time on their hands. And of course even if the pre-agreement does exist, Vettel or Red Bull would have to slip up before the clause is relevant – something that is not at all guaranteed to happen!