Ferrari set Lewis Hamilton deadline as Sebastian Vettel told he could be axed

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Ferrari have told Sebastian Vettel he has five races to save his job after Lewis Hamilton talks were held.

Sebastian Vettel only has the first five races of the 2020 season to save his Ferrari seat. The German has come under mounting pressure because the Prancing Horse have not won a World Championship in 12 years.

By signing Vettel from Red Bull in 2015, Ferrari thought they were destined to end their trophy drought.

But the four-time world champion has failed to deliver the goods and the Italian team are now in talks with Lewis Hamilton over a blockbuster switch.

Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Drivers’ Championships by extending Mercedes’ dominance next term.

However, beyond that the Brit is toying with the idea of finish his career in the famous Italian red – a move which would spell the end of Vettel’s time.

And Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto wants to make a decision by the Spanish Grand Prix in May, meaning Vettel has five races beforehand to prove his worth.

“We have to see the performance, the way he adapts to the car and his motivation for the future,” Binotto said of Vettel.

“It’s not about whether he makes mistakes or not. It’s really about how he sees his future and how we see our team.

“Ferrari has the advantage that we are very popular among the drivers. We are in a privileged situation.

“By the beginning of May, roughly around the race in Spain, we want to know where the journey will go in 2021.”

Meanwhile, Binotto feels his team have closed the deficit on Mercedes and are confident of launching a stronger challenge next year.

“At a time when the engines are becoming more and more similar, 20 bhp is a big advantage, helping you in qualifying and in the race.

“I am proud of this development. I can still remember the first hybrid year in 2014. The gap to Mercedes was huge.

“We have made tremendous efforts at the factory in Maranello to fill this gap. I have to say that we have done a great job in this field.

“We have not changed the operating conditions of the engines. In order to generate more downforce, the air resistance has increased. Therefore, we are now a bit faster in the corners, but slower on the straights.”

But what exactly has happened for the gap to be closed?

“We have changed, by quite a lot, our power unit, in terms of architecture, the cylinder,” Binotto added.

“It’s quite a big review just to show that here again, there is much that can be done. The change we are looking for next year is quite significant changes on the engine itself.

“Our car next year is aiming for a lot more downforce by having more downforce, certainly more drag.

“We are not expecting to be as far on the straight as we have been. But you never know what the others are doing.

“The things that we learned, we recognise that we need to have certainly more downforce – as we saw at the end of the season, still there is a gap to close.”

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