RBR boss Christian Horner says that the team did not want to stand in Sebastian Vettel’s way once it became clear that the German wanted to go elsewhere.
Vettel is in any case believed to have had an escape clause which was triggered if he was not in the top three in the World Championship as of September 30, and it’s been clear for some time that he would not achieve that target.
“I think it’s more about relationships than what’s on a piece of paper,” said Horner when asked by this writer. “We’ve enjoyed a relationship that hasn’t been based on what’s written on a piece of paper, and when somebody’s heart not in a relationship you have to let them go, so it’s a far healthier situation.
“I’ve known him long enough and well enough to know there’s been something on his mind the last few weeks, but he was very honest, very open, very emotional, but he makes his own decisions, and this was very much his own decision.”
Horner insisted that Vettel had not been encouraged into leaving by the team’s troubles this year, and by the future scaling back of Adrian Newey’s involvement.
“I don’t think that they were really factors. I think the lure of another team that’s brightly coloured has come up, and at a point in his life and career that he’s felt is right for him. We obviously respect that decision, and rather than looking to hold a driver against his will it’s better to reflect on the good times and look forward. Sebastian will have all all his own reasons, so I’m sure in the fullness of time, he’ll inform you.
“This was always going to happen at some point. It’s happened today, it’s time to look forward. Of course it was sad when he expressed what his desire was for next year. We’ve enjoyed such a wonderful relationship together, all those victories, World Championships, great times on track and off track, it’s right to wish him the best of luck in his new venture. It would be wrong to have a driver in the team whose heart was not 100% here.”