Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is confident that Sebastian Vettel will win a fifth world championship during his time with Scuderia Ferrari.
After winning four world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, Vettel left the team at the end of last season to join Ferrrari, a brand he has been a lifelong admirer of.
The German driver has since excelled with the Italian marque, claiming two race wins in the opening half of the 2015 season to rank third in the drivers’ championship.
In an interview with the official F1 website alongside Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, Ecclestone said that although he thinks Vettel will not win the title in 2015, he is sure one will follow over the coming years with Ferrari.
“I think he will struggle this year,” Ecclestone said. “But, sure, he will win a world championship with Ferrari. No doubt about that.”
In the wide-ranging conversation, Ecclestone and Arrivabene also discussed Vettel’s decision to turn his back on Red Bull last fall and secure a move to Ferrari for 2015.
It was revealed that Vettel had called Ecclestone to discuss the possibility of moving away from Red Bull, asking for some advice.
“For sure one concern was leaving a team he had won four world championships with,” Ecclestone said.
“You have won so much – and now you want to move? Not easy.
“But I tried to explain to him that here you have one team that is struggling to maintain its level, and there you have another team that is going to improve. It can only be an upside.”
Ecclestone also backed Ferrari’s decision to retain Kimi Raikkonen for the 2016 season, believing the timing of the announcement to have been particularly good.
“It was a clever move from Ferrari to announce it when they did,” Ecclestone said.
“Others would have announced it on the race weekend – and it wouldn’t have given them half the attention that they got. [Arrivabene] understands the business.”