Friday 20 March at 08:35 :
Mar.20 (GMM) Talks with Sebastian Vettel about a new Ferrari contract for 2021 are underway.
That is the news from Mattia Binotto, the Ferrari boss. Currently, the factory at Maranello is closed as Italy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The health of our employees is important. It's our top priority," he told F1's official website.
One prominent Ferrari team member is German Vettel, whose contract runs out this year. In the winter period, Binotto said a new deal for 2021 should be able to be decided over a single glass of wine.
But amid rumours of a potential switch for Vettel to McLaren or Renault, Binotto's tune has now changed somewhat.
"We have started discussing a new deal," Binotto said. "It's important we address it quite soon. It's not something we will leave until the end of the season."
Binotto is now suggesting that Vettel, 32, needs to do well in the opening races of the season.
"He's in a very good shape. I think he's focused," said the Italian. "He knows he needs to do well.
"It's a key moment of his career, because whatever he may do at the start of the season will be important for his renewal. It's in his hands."
Binotto also said that 2019, when Vettel lost his outright number 1 status to team newcomer Charles Leclerc, was a pivotal moment in the quadruple world champion's career.
"Last year was important for him. Charles' performance took him by surprise," he said.
"It's not the case anymore, he knows where the benchmark is and he knows what he needs to do, so I think he has prepared himself very well through the winter."