Vettel tipped to replace Massa in 2014
A soon-to-be-confirmed one-year contract extension for Felipe Massa looks set to pave the way for Sebastian Vettel to join Ferrari in 2014.
Following speculation earlier this year that the two-time and reigning World Champion had signed an option contract with the Scuderia for his services in 2014, the British Broadcasting Corporation now reports that a deal between the team and the driver is done.
The inked contract is said to include performance clauses that Ferrari must fulfill next year in order for the deal to be valid.
The news outlet also claims that “Vettel’s arrival at Ferrari has been sanctioned by (Fernando) Alonso, who has a say in the identity of his team-mate.”
Vettel’s link to Ferrari, which was made public in late May, was understood to have initially surfaced while Lewis Hamilton’s management team was shopping its star around the F1 paddock.
Vettel, Ferrari and Red Bull have all continually denied that a deal is in place since the original stories surfaced.
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The impending announcement of Massa’s contract extension follows a strong series of races for the Brazilian.
The 31-year-old has finished inside the top five in four of the last five Grands Prix, finally breaking his near two-year podium drought with second place in Japan. Massa had scored just 25 of his now 81 point total across the season’s first 11 races.
Ferrari’s decision to retain Massa for an eighth season is expected to see Nico Hulkenberg, who had firmed as the favourite to graduate to Ferrari, move across to Sauber. The German is likely to be joined at the Swiss team by Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez, who is backed by current Sauber sponsor Telmex.
Ferrari had previously chased the signature of Mark Webber for its second seat next season before the Australian elected to sign on for another season at Red Bull.