Sebastian Vettel isn’t going into retirement just yet after signing on for the 2021 season and beyond.
After it was announced he would split with Ferrari at the end of this year, rumours floated the German superstar could step away from the grid for good.
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But he’s put those thoughts to bed after links to Racing Point, who will be renamed Aston Martin Racing from next season, continued to grow.
On Thursday afternoon the news became official with Vettel signing on the dotted line to partner Lance Stroll.
“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future,” Vettel said in a statement.
“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 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.”
Vettel’s signing comes after current Racing Point driver Sergio Perez announced he would be departing the team at season’s end. Despite saying last month he was confident he’d retain his seat in 2021 because his team had told him everything was going fine, Perez was punted as Racing Point hunted Vettel.
The Mexican was filthy at being left out in the cold, saying “nobody told me anything” about his impending axing until the day it was finalised.
“That was the feedback that I was getting, that the team wanted to keep me and so on,” Perez said on Thursday.
“There were some discussions in the background about contracts and so on, that I’m not willing to disclose because I think those things should remain between the team and myself.
“There were a couple of things in the contract that we went through. In the end, they officially told me yesterday that I’m not continuing.
“I didn’t expect that. It is how it is.”
Perez plans to continue racing but added it would have helped his future plans had Racing Point been more upfront with him.
“Probably a bit more clarity would have helped regarding my future as well. Then I would have looked for a plan B, which probably wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said.
Perez consoled a gutted engineer, who commented on the Instagram post confirming his departure with: I’m gutted mate, you know this, our whole crew is.”
Perez replied: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
F1 broadcaster Will Buxton tweeted: “Perez left demonstrably unimpressed by the entire saga. Said he believed he’d be retained right up to the point he received a call saying the team had sprung an option clause and it was over. Says his garage, as evidenced by their social media posts, are gutted too.”
Perez’s sacking opened the door for the team to sign Vettel who has endured a nightmare behind the wheel of his Ferrari in his final season.
Racing Point/Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer was elated with the signing of Vettel and what the pairing of him and Stroll could become.
“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,” 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 timing of the announcement caught fans by surprise with Ferrari set to celebrate a milestone 1000th Grand Prix this weekend in Tuscan.
Vettel’s 2020 season has slumped from disaster to disaster as the famous car fails to keep up to speed with the front of the grid.
The four-time world champion currently sits in 12th spot in the drivers’ standings, but will get behind the wheel a rejuvenated Racing Point/Aston Martin car.