OCTOBER 8, 2016
Vettel must earn new Ferrari contract says Arrivabene
Maurizio Arrivabene says Sebastian Vettel will have to earn a new Ferrari contract.
The timing of the Ferrari team chief's comments is interesting, after sections of the Italian media suggested German Vettel is in a period of "crisis".
"I can read," Vettel was quoted by Sport Bild as having responded to the Italian press' reports, "but I read rather different things."
On Italian television Sky, Arrivabene backed Vettel but suggested that his place at Ferrari beyond 2017 may not be secure.
"Vettel is neither the problem nor the solution," he said.
"The two drivers are very important and Seb is working hard although at times there have been distractions.
"He just needs to focus on the car. He is a person who gives so much, which can mean he is interested in a bit of everything. So sometimes he just has to focus on the main work that he has to do," said Arrivabene.
In that way, Arrivabene said he is not ready to start talking about Vettel's contract beyond next year.
"Seb has a contract with us, each of us has our goals and it is right that everyone earns his place and money," he said.
It was suggested, however, that a new deal for 2018 and beyond might be one way for Ferrari to demonstrate confidence in the four-time world champion.
"I don't think anyone wins because of (contract) renewals," Arrivabene insisted.
"Today, times have changed, and what worked in the past with Schumacher does not necessarily work with Seb."
Arrivabene admitted that Ferrari overall "underestimated the strength of Mercedes and Red Bull" in 2017, "and it was a lesson in humility to look behind as well as in front of you.
"It is a matter of (car) design but there were other factors outside of the merits of the project that we could not predict," he added, possibly referring to the death of James Allison's wife and the technical director's departure.