The Racing Point F1 team (earlier known as Force India and set to be renamed as Aston Martin for 2021) has been making huge leaps in 2020, emerging with the third-fastest car on the grid. Now, they have roped in one of the most successful drivers in the history of F1 for their 2021 campaign, Sebastian Vettel. This comes as the German Racer’s former team, Ferrari chose not to offer a contract earlier this year.
Sebastian Vettel’s 53 Race Victory record is surpassed only by Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. And only Schumacher, Hamilton and Juan Manuel Fangio have more titles than him. Vettel commented on the move saying “I’m extremely proud to say I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021.”
Adding “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, the owner] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together.”
Aston Martin, the legendary luxury and sports car manufacturing, were taken over by Stroll, a Canadian Billionaire Businessman after Racing Point was taken over by him as well back in 2018.
“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.” said the 33-year-old German.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the team were “hugely excited” by the news. “Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 Team,” he 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.”
The length of the contract has not been revealed but it is speculated to be a three-year deal.
Sebastian will be replacing Sergio Perez, who signed a contract with Racing Point last year till 2022.
The move is seen as an alliance between two forces trying to build and rebuild their reputation as successful and committed giants in the F1 space. Vettel has been through 3 excruciating years with Ferrari, both for the team, and the driver.
Vettel won four consecutive titles with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013 and joined Ferrari in 2015 after a year in which his new team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, beat him.
Vettel helped Ferrari become title contenders against Hamilton and Mercedes in both 2017 and 2018, but each year they fell short, partly because of a string of errors by the driver. These continued into 2019 when he was joined in the team by the highly-rated Charles Leclerc. Like Ricciardo, Leclerc beat Vettel in his first season with the team, even though Vettel started the year as the team’s official number one. Leclerc scored more pole positions, out-qualified Vettel more often than not and won more races and scored more points. In addition, there were a series of flashpoints between the two drivers as they battled for supremacy, culminating in them crashing out of the Brazilian Grand Prix together. Needless to say, Ferrari weren’t particularly impressed with Vettel’s performance, which led them to commit to Leclerc as their team leader, and before entering negotiations with the “proud champion” as Ferrari called it, signed Carlos Sainz instead.
Meanwhile, Racing Point haven’t escaped controversy either, owing to them illegally copying Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts and using them on their 2020 car, for which they were docked 15 points and fined 400,000 euros only last month.
Perhaps this is the opportunity both parties were looking for to reinvent their legacy, coming in style with a new name and new game.