Sebastian Vettel has brushed off suggestions that he could take Nico Rosberg’s vacant Formula 1 seat at Mercedes next year, saying his focus lies on working with Ferrari to improve on their 2016 season.
Rosberg sensationally announced on Friday that he would be retiring from F1 with immediate effect, just five days after winning his maiden World Championship.
Rosberg’s move has sent the driver market into a late flux, with Mercedes’ Niki Lauda claiming that half of the F1 grid has been in touch regarding the seat despite many of them having contracts.
Vettel has been named as a possible candidate for Rosberg’s seat despite having one year remaining on his Ferrari deal, but when speaking at the Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway, the German stressed he is focused on his current commitments at Maranello.
“I think it’s no secret the fact that me and Kimi Raikkonen have a contract for next season,” Vettel is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Kimi and I are already committed. In 2017 we will be competitive.
“We have not reached the goal this year, but now it will be important to do the job at the factory in the next two months.
“I am confident that we will definitely present an improved package.”
Vettel signed off with a message to Rosberg, wishing the retiring champion “happy holidays!”
Vettel finished 2016 fourth in the drivers’ championship without a win to his name as Ferrari struggled to keep up with Mercedes and Red Bull in the pecking order.
Mercedes is set to begin its search for a replacement on Monday, with the other big-name driver besides Vettel linked to the seat being McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
Should Mercedes want to promote one of its junior drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon are both also available, although neither has more than a season of F1 experience.