Veteran F1 driver Sebastian Vettel will join Aston Martin for the 2021 season and beyond as the team completes its rebrand from Racing Point.
In May, Vettel was told by current team Ferrari that his contract would not be renewed and ever since the 33-year-old has left questions over the continuation of his career go unanswered. The German will replace Sergio Perez at Racing Point, who will undergo a brand overhaul and name change to Aston Martin before the commencement of the 2021 season.
“It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company,” said Vettel. “I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter.
“The energy and commitment of Lawrence [Stroll] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together.
“I still have so much love for Formula 1 and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege.”
Sergio Perez spoke of his shock at Racing Point’s decision to drop him and revealed that he was told just a matter of hours before the announcement was released. The Spaniard has been with the team for seven years and will now be forced to find another seat, although there are options available to him.
Mercedes and Red Bull both currently have spots open for the 2021 season, but it is heavily expected that world champion Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon will retain those spots. There are two seats for the taking at AlphaTauri, but more realistic destinations for Perez are Alfa Romeo or Haas.
“The final confirmation came yesterday,” said a downbeat Perez during the pre-Tuscan Grand Prix press conference. “Nobody told me anything. It’s fine. Seven years with the team.”
“No, there was nothing to prepare me really,” the 30-year-old told Sky Sports. “I basically found out officially last night. So… yeah.
“All the feedback that I was getting was that I was pretty sure, and they were pretty sure, and we all wanted to continue. Things changed in the end.
“Now I can look after my future and see what’s available out there, see if there’s something that motivates me to stay in Formula 1,” he said. “There are options out there. I’m surprised with the options there are.”
“I don’t feel I need to rush into anything,” he explained. “I need to get on with this weekend with my racing and I want to see what’s on the table, and then I will be taking a decision.
“But I don’t expect to make a decision any time soon.”
Racing Point sit in fourth in this campaign’s Constructors’ Championship, two places and 21 points ahead of Vettel’s current team and sleeping giants Ferrari. Lawrence Stroll’s team have made a considerable leap from last year and have garnered criticism and controversy in doing so, mostly from rivals as a result of their cars’ likeness to last year’s Mercedes, who won the title.
The team, whose other driver is Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance, are based in Silverstone and are looking to make a further leap next year when they take the name Aston Martin. Billionaire co-owner Lawrence Stroll bought the brand earlier this year.
“The signing of Sebastian is a clear statement of the team’s ambition to establish itself as one of the most competitive names in the sport,” said the team.
“Everybody at Silverstone is hugely excited by this news. Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 Team,” Otmar Szafnauer, the outfit’s team principal, said.
“On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Sebastian is one of the best in the world, and I can’t think of a better driver to help take us into this new era. He will play a significant role in taking this team to the next level.”
Ferrari have already announced that it will be Carlos Sainz to replace Vettel next year, with Daniel Ricciardo set to replace him at McLaren. The Australian will be vacating his seat at Renault, who have decided to bring back legendary driver Fernando Alonso after a two-year hiatus from Formula One.
“I think this makes sense on both counts,” F1 expert Ted Kravitz told Sky. “If you’re Sebastian Vettel, and you’re looking to go to a better-performing car, he’s got that. Racing Point are faster than this year’s Ferrari – so he has to hope that next year’s Aston Martin will be quicker than next year’s Ferrari as well.
“And it makes sense for Racing Point, because they have a proven winner. Vettel’s won 53 Grands Prix, he knows what to do in a car that’s capable of being on the podium and that’s maybe what Racing Point have lacked in Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. Stroll had a great chance to win the last Grand Prix in Monza but didn’t, and that hurt. The thought in Racing Point is, Sebastian Vettel would know how to win a Grand Prix in a car that’s capable of doing it.