Mercedes target Vettel for the most decorated pairing in F1 history

The possibility of the pair, who have 10 championship titles combined, racing together came about after Tuesday's announcement that Vettel would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the year, starting a huge driver shake-up. However, it is far more likely that Vettel's place will be taken by Carlos Sainz of McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo then going from Renault to replace the Spaniard. And while it is unclear for the moment whether Vettel, 32, will retire at the end of the year or seek a final contract elsewhere, he is firmly on Mercedes' radar as an alternative to Valtteri Bottas. 'When looking into the future, our first loyalty lies with the current Mercedes drivers but naturally we must take this development into consideration.' He fell victim to an internal review that decided he was surplus to requirements, with 22-year-old Monegasque Charles Leclerc the undisputed main man at the Scuderia. Slideshow: The opening F1 race winners and how they fared in the Drivers' Championship (ReadSport) 'They no longer believed in Sebastian,' said one Italian source close to the scene. Vettel then leaked the news in the German media on Monday night, which forced Ferrari into issuing official confirmation on Tuesday morning.  Team principal Mattia Binotto said: 'The decision was not easy to reach, given Sebastian's worth as a driver and a person. He will see out this season, if it restarts, in the red overalls he has worn since joining the Scuderia in 2015 in the hope of emulating his boyhood hero Michael Schumacher in championship success. Despite 14 wins, the dream failed to materialise, his performances increasingly scratchy compared to the serenity of his titles in a dominant Red Bull between 2010 and 2013. The six-time world champion's Mercedes contract is due for renewal at the end of the season, but talks have paused while coronavirus lurks. Slideshow: Sir Stirling Moss's 16 F1 career wins (ReadSport) It may be that he will yet spring a surprise by ringing Ferrari chairman John Elkann, and press to make the switch. Ricciardo's expected move from Renault might open the way for their double world champion Fernando Alonso to return from his Formula One break.