Formula One

Sebastian Vettel joined Aston Martin

Vettel will partner Lance Stroll at rebranded Racing Point team

Vettel denies Ferrari regrets but says he almost quit F1 before Aston Martin deal


Having announced he will join the Racing Point team in 2021, Sebastian Vettel has revealed he came close to leaving Formula One before closing the new deal. Vettel has driven for Ferrari for the past five years but his contract was not renewed by the Scuderia earlier this year leaving him without a drive.

Speaking before this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello the four-time world champion admitted his time with Ferrari had been a failure and has now concluded a multi-year deal with Racing Point who will be rebranded as Aston Martin next year and are currently enjoying a very competitive season, ahead of Ferrari.

“It was close,” he said when asked if he had considered retiring. “In terms of having a lot of the thoughts and I had to put myself first in that regard in what was best for me. What I have decided now I believe is the best for me.”

Vettel will partner Lance Stroll at Racing Point, the son of the team’s billionaire owner, Lawrence Stroll. His appointment comes at the expense of the highly-rated Mexican driver Sergio Pérez, who announced on Wednesday night that he was no longer required by the team after seven years driving for them and despite having a contract until the end of 2022.

The timing of Vettel’s announcement appears arranged to overshadow Ferrari celebrating their 1,000th F1 race at Mugello. Vettel had been clear that he still enjoys racing in F1 and was eager to continue.

The 33-year-old enjoyed some success with Ferrari over the past five years but has made errors that proved costly and was well-beaten by Lewis Hamilton who has won the last three titles in succession.

“I joined Ferrari to win championships not just win races and in the right way and in that regard you could say we have failed in that we did not win the championship,” he said. “We had good moments I would not want to miss. I got to know people who have really helped me, made friends potentially for life so I don’t regret the years I have spent with Ferrari.”

Ferrari have made it clear they are backing Charles Leclerc as their future No 1 and Vettel will be replaced by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. They are currently sixth in the constructors championship while Racing Point, using a car that is effectively a copy of last year’s title-winning Mercedes, are fourth.

They have since been fined €400,000 and been docked 15 points for having illegally copied parts of the Mercedes.

The decision is a blow for Pérez who was instrumental in the administration process that enabled Stroll to take over Racing Point from former owner Vijay Mallya, when the team was known as Force India. Pérez revealed in Mugello that he had not been informed by the team until after he had already ascertained he would be dropped.

“Nobody told me anything, but I already knew and figured out a couple of things,” he said. “Final confirmation came yesterday.”

Stroll has since taken over Aston Martin and has has grand ambitions for the team and his son. Realistically if Pérez is to stay in F1 his chances lie with a seat at Haas or Alfa Romeo.

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