F1 2021 driver grid: reactions as Sebastian Vettel signs with Aston Martin
German star replaces Sergio Perez in the rebranded Racing Point team
Just 12 hours after Sergio Perez announced he is to leave Racing Point it was confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will next year drive for the Formula 1 team that will be rebranded as Aston Martin.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, is departing Ferrari after five years and signs a deal with the Aston Martin F1 Team for “2021 and beyond”.
The German will be joined on the grid next season by current Racing Point driver Lance Stroll, the son of Aston Martin executive chairman Lawrence Stroll.
Confirming the team’s “new era”, Racing Point CEO and principal Otmar Szafnauer said: “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.
“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.”
Vettel, 33, added: “I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future. I’m extremely proud to say that I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021. It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company.
“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.”
How F1 media reacted to Vettel’s move
“Initially, there didn’t appear to be a place for Vettel, given Sergio Perez had a multi-year deal which ran until the end of 2022 while [Lawrence] Stroll’s son Lance is in the other seat. But on the eve of the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello – Ferrari’s 1000th race – Perez shocked the F1 world by revealing he will leave the team at the end of the year and has no ‘Plan B’ in terms of a drive. That paved the way for Racing Point to announce Vettel – who won four consecutive championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013 - would be joining them, alongside Stroll, for their first season under the Aston Martin brand.”
Luke Smith, Motorsport.com
“It marks a big change of pace for Vettel after a decade racing with F1 powerhouses, in the form of Red Bull and Ferrari. But this is not simply a case of finding any landing spot to prolong his F1 career. Aston Martin could offer Vettel the perfect next step to write the next chapter of his F1 story.”
James Galloway, Sky Sports
“The arrival of Charles Leclerc at Ferrari last year rocked Vettel somewhat, and ultimately the Ferrari relationship, but he was still a race-winner in 2019 and was only just beaten in the points, and qualifying battles by his team-mate. He now gets a chance to prove himself as one of F1’s elite again, and for the first time in his career driving a Merc-powered car.”
Andrew Benson, BBC Sport
“While Vettel joining Aston Martin is a huge coup for a team that was originally established as Jordan in 1991, it is also a chance for Vettel to rebuild his reputation in a new environment.”
Lewis Larkam, Crash.net
“The decision to go after Vettel was a no-brainer for Aston Martin. Although Vettel has suffered something of a reputation hit following three mistake-ridden campaigns at Ferrari, he remains a four-time world champion and winner of 53 grands prix, making him statistically at least, the fourth most successful F1 driver of all time. In a competitive car, and with the right team support network around him under effective leadership, there is no doubting Vettel’s abilities behind the wheel of F1 machinery.”
F1 2021 driver grid: who is confirmed so far?
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
Valtteri Bottas (contract until end of 2021)
Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow
Charles Leclerc (contract until end of 2024) Carlos Sainz (contract until end of 2022)
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (contracted until end of 2023)
McLaren F1 Team
Daniel Ricciardo (multi-year contract) Lando Norris (multi-year contract)
Alpine F1 Team (Renault)
Esteban Ocon (contracted until end of 2021) Fernando Alonso (contracted at least until the end of 2021)
Drivers to be confirmed
Aston Martin F1 Team
Sebastian Vettel (multi year contract) Lance Stroll
Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen
Drivers to be confirmed
Haas F1 Team
Drivers to be confirmed
George Russell (contracted until the end of 2021) Nicholas Latifi (contracted until the end of 2021)