Christian Horner says he would be amazed if Sebastian Vettel left Ferrari at the end of the season to move to arch-rival Mercedes amid rumors the German team is ramping up its efforts to secure the services of the four-time world champion.
It was revealed that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff attended Vettel's 30th birthday party in Switzerland earlier this month, fueling speculation that there is ongoing communication between the driver and the manufacturer.
While Horner acknowledged the probability of Mercedes engaging with Vettel, who oversaw the 30-year-old's championship seasons at Red Bull, he said he would be very surprised if his former driver jumps off the Ferrari ship when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.
"I’d be amazed if Seb left Ferrari," Horner said.
"I would think he’s got Toto in his ear trying to say extend for a year. He’s probably got Ferrari saying it’s three years or nothing.
"I guess he wants to see through what he started at Ferrari. He went there for a reason, to build something and very much emulate what Michael Schumacher had done.
"Stepping out now with the progress they have would be a job half done."
Vettel escaped additional sanctions from the FIA for his controversial 'road rage' move on Lewis Hamilton in Baku. Reflecting on the incident, Horner believes the German has taken a leaf out of Michael Schumacher's book of racing, following the F1 legend's 'win at all costs' approach.
"Sebastian’s got this huge desire within him, and the records mean a lot," Horner said.
"Michael was very much his idol and I think what we see sometimes is that killer instinct of ‘I want to win’, sometimes at all costs.
"He comes across as spoiled but I think you’ve got to put yourself in his scenario and his shoes. He’s lifted Ferrari from where it was to where it is now, he’s been a big driver in that.
"Sebastian wears his heart on his sleeve and he is involved in a very intense title battle. He sees an opportunity to be a champion again this year and he knows he’s going to need everything going his way against Mercedes to achieve that.
"He has zero filter between what he thinks and what he says sometimes or what he does and that’s the great side of him, but sometimes it gets him in hot water as well."