Sebastian Vettel To Aston Martin - Good, Bad or Undecided?

News broke recently (well, last week), that Sebastian Vettel would be joining Aston Martin for 2021. I thought I would write a piece about it, whether or not it’s a good decision and what it will mean for the team next year.

Sebastian Vettel made headlines when he became the youngest driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend when he drove for BMW Sauber at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, and turned heads when he set the fastest time in the second practice session. A year later, he made his debut driving for the team at the 2007 USA Grand Prix and finished an impressive 8th.

For 2008, he moved to Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, and scored a memorable first pole position and race win at the wet Italian Grand Prix, becoming the youngest pole sitter and youngest race winner at the time.

He moved to Red Bull for 2009, and finished second in the championship behind eventual winner Jenson Button in the Brawn GP. He subsequently won four championships back to back between 2010 and 2013 for Red Bull, and has amassed 120 podiums, 57 pole positions and 53 race wins, making him the driver with the third highest amount of wins, behind only Michael Schumacher on 91 and Lewis Hamilton on 90.

A move to Ferrari in 2015 offered potential and excitement, and despite Mercedes’ dominance in the sport, he finished second in the championship in both 2017 and 2018, but never managed to emulate his hero Schumacher and turn Ferrari back into the championship winning team it once was. He had a good chance to win the championship in 2018 and was leading it, but a series of mistakes from both driver and team ended his hopes, and he hasn’t really looked like challenging since.

He became known for making silly errors when in good positions. Mainly, when leading his home Grand Prix in Germany in 2018, before sliding off and crashing out. He has had plenty of spins when fighting for the race lead and podium positions too, costing both him and the team valuable points.

Charles LeClerc arrived on the scene in 2019, and almost instantly became the new favourite and Ferrari’s future. Vettel’s performances dropped, and while LeClerc won two races in 2019, Vettel managed just one race win and finished only fifth in the championship, one place and 24 points behind LeClerc in fourth.

The start of the 2020 season was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and during that break it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team. It was news that shocked the F1 world, even more so when Vettel said that he hadn’t expected it and that he was confident he would be behind the wheel of a Ferrari for 2021. Team principal Mattia Binotto said Vettel would be in the car for 2021, only to call his driver and tell him he would be replaced. The relationship between team and driver has clearly suffered, with Vettel heard numerous times over the radio sounding frustrating and angry. Coupled with the uncompetitive and disappointing Ferrari SF1000 car, it’s a final season to forget for the driver who enjoyed so much success and turned F1 into his playground only a matter of years ago.

I was very happy to hear that Vettel had secured a drive with Aston Martin Racing (currently known as Racing Point) for next year. Of course, I do feel bad for Sergio Perez, who will be the driver to lose his seat, especially as he helped save the team during its’ difficult final years as Force India, and helped keep them from going under. I hope Perez can find a seat elsewhere on the grid for 2021.

I feel this is a very good move, not just for Vettel and Aston Martin, but for F1 as a whole. Sebastian can get out of Ferrari, which seems to have a toxic atmosphere at times, and move to a team where there is less pressure and he will have less of a target over his head. He has not seemed a happy man over the past two seasons, so this will be a nice fresh start for him, and a chance to rediscover his love for F1, which he maintains he has never lost.

It’s very good for the team as well. They’re currently on the grid as Racing Point, but will of course be renamed as Aston Martin next year. One of the biggest names in car manufacturers will have its’ name on the grid, and in one of its cars will be one of the best drivers of his generation, and one of the most successful drivers of recent times. In the other car will of course be Lance Stroll. This will be ideal for Stroll, as he still has much to learn, and Vettel will be a good benchmark for him. Having a four time champion as a team mate won’t be easy, but if he can keep up with Vettel and take some knowledge away from him, it could really put him in a good place in future.

It’s great news for the sport too. F1 doesn’t really want to lose Vettel, one of the most popular and likeable drivers on the grid. Having him around is brilliant, and it’ll be fantastic to see him in a different team, and a team that is rising up the grid fast, and has at times this season had the second fastest car, behind only Mercedes. Yes, we know that this years Racing Point is very similar (VERY similar) to last years Mercedes, but next years car will be a lot less similar due to the ban on copying parts from other teams.

I get the feeling that Vettel might be thinking he’s getting out at just the right time, too. Ferrari have been woeful in 2020 and currently lie sixth in the constructors championship. Racing Point, on the other hand, have been consistently fast and currently sit in a much more impressive fourth. Sebastian will have a Mercedes engine powering him along next year, which is a much better power unit than the current Ferrari one in the back of his SF1000. Ever since the FIA clamped down on engine rules towards the end of last season and found the Ferrari unit to be illegal, all Ferrari powered teams (Ferrari, Haas and Alfa Romeo) have struggled.

This is a great chance for Sebastian Vettel to reinvigorate himself, rediscover his love of F1 and hopefully get some decent results in what should be a good car next year. There’s something nice about saying that you drive for Aston Martin Racing, a name that has plenty of success and pedigree in the world of motorsport, so I think we will see a completely different Vettel next year, one more similar to his ‘golden years’ at Red Bull, or even his earlier seasons at Ferrari.

I also feel he might be feeling a bit sorry for Carlos Sainz, who will of course be replacing him at Ferrari for 2021. Even Sainz must be wondering how next year will go, with the current season being a total disaster. With the rule changes being pushed back to 2022, he will have longer to wait until he gets to drive a new Ferrari, as this year car will be in use next season too!

I can’t wait to see how Sebastian gets on, and I’ve definitely become more of a Vettel fan in recent years. I didn’t like him during his time at Red Bull, but since his move to Ferrari, I’ve grown to like him and I like seeing him on the podium and on the top step - something we haven’t seen enough of recently!

As always, take car, stay safe and we hope to see you on our F1 Fans Show, every Monday at 8pm! Get involved, have your say and give us your opinions!

Steve Thomson