American racing legend Mario Andretti believes that the expected moves for both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season will be good for the drivers and for the sport as a whole.
Vettel confirmed over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, with his current team boss Christian Horner saying that he would be heading to Ferrari for 2015.
The outgoing world champion is poised to replace Alonso at Maranello after the Spaniard’s relationship with the team soured over the past few months. After five difficult seasons with Ferrari, he is thought to be angling for a move back to McLaren upon its renewed partnership with Honda.
For Andretti, Vettel’s departure from Red Bull will give him a chance to breathe new life into his career away of the marque’s influence.
“I think movements are good as far as for the sport,” Andretti said. “It’s great storylines.
“But honestly, I feel personally that this will help Sebastian to expand and experience new things. He’s been basically groomed at Toro Rosso and Red Bull under the same umbrella. He needs to expand just to experience different things.
“Maybe some of this will help him, to deal with different people and different approaches. I think it’ll be a great career help for him.
Andretti believes that Ferrari will have to up its game if it is to win races with Vettel at the wheel of its car, but he does feel that a new environment will be positive for Alonso too.
“I think some new blood stimulates everyone,” he said. “Maybe Ferrari needs some of that too. I don’t see anybody who can do any better than Fernando Alonso, but at the same time Ferrari needs to provide a step up in their performance level for any driver so they can win some races.
“But even Fernando needs some fresh air as well. I think all these movements are great, but honestly, you’ve got to believe that it creates a lot of curiosity for all of us just to see how these guys are going to fare.
“If any of you know where Fernando is going, please let us know! I was trying to get something out of Ron Dennis yesterday, he kept changing the subject!”
However, he feels that taking a sabbatical would only damage the sport and Alonso’s career.
“Gosh, yes, a big loss,” he said. “I think it would be a big loss for him as well.”