Vettel joins Aston Martin replacing Perez
Sebastian Vettel is to replace Sergio Perez at Aston Martin from next season. The four-times world champion was not given a new contract by Ferrari and joins the German manufacturer for its first season as a works team.
Although its will its partnership with Mercedes who are part of the same group as Aston Martin. Racing Point has made a huge leap forward in 2020, emerging with the third-fastest car on the grid – although they have been surrounded by controversy for copying the 2019 Mercedes.
The Anglo-German car company is five per cent owned by Daimler who own Mercedes. The statement said signing Vettel was “a clear statement of the team’s ambition” to establish themselves at the front.
Vettel, who replaces Sergio Perez, added, “It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company.”
A statement from Aston Martin said Vettel had signed for “2021 and beyond” but did not confirm the length of the contract. Typically, it would be expected the German has signed a three-year deal.
Vettel said: “I’m extremely proud to say I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021. 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.” Vettel becomes the first champion to drive for the Silverstone based team since Damon Hill in 1999.
In the press conference for the Tuscan Grand Prix, Vettel said the new regulations from 2022, its performances with a small budget in previous years and their development this year under the new ownership of Lawrence Stroll.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer said the team were “hugely excited” by the news. Saying, “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.’
Reputation’s to re-established
Racing Point has massive step forwards although the teams rise to the third-fastest team this season. However, that has opened a row about its close resemblance to Mercedes.
Last month they were docked 15 points and fined 400,000 euros for illegally copying Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts and using them on their 2020 car. The case has led to rule clarifications for next season that are aimed at preventing such wholesale copying of one team’s car by another ever happening again.
Sebastian Vettel’s reputation has also taken a hit with five difficult seasons where he failed to deliver a title for Ferrari. He was blighted by mistakes in 2015, 2017 and 2018 which cost him the chance of a title. He remains the fourth most successful driver in the sport.
Aston Martin returns to Formula One after sixty years, although this is a rebrand it comes after Lawrence Stroll brought the Force India team, which had been lurching from one financial crisis to the next for some time.
Stroll made his fortune in fashion but has had a lifelong fascination with F1 and has a large collection of classic cars. Stroll now needs to find the money lost by Sergio Perez who brought millions in terms of sponsorship. The Coronavirus pandemic forced Ferrari to part company with Vettel which changed the landscape of the driver market and Stroll viewed signing him as too good an opportunity to miss.
However, Vettel’s reputation is not what it was, after three difficult years at Ferrari. Vettel won four consecutive titles with Red Bull from 2010-13 and joined Ferrari in 2015 after a year in which his new team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, had beaten him.
Vettel helped build Ferrari until they were 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.
The arrival of Charles Leclerc seemed to unsettle Vettel, with the twenty-two-year-old to establish himself as the team leader. Leclerc scored more pole positions, out-qualified Vettel more often than the other way around, won more races and scored more points.
Also, 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.
Ferrari then committed to Leclerc for five years and then decided not to renew Vettel’s contract. They instead signed Carlos Sainz.
The signing of Vettel is just the latest twist in the 2021 driver market, and now eyes will turn to Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton is yet to formally commit to Mercedes, with the future of CEO and team principal Toto Wolff ‘considering his future’.
“Ideal” choice for Vettel, but sorry for Perez
Lewis Hamilton believes that Sebastian Vettel has made the “ideal” choice in moving to Aston Martin next season. Vettel’s move to the team came hours after Sergio Perez announce on social media that he was leaving the team.
The world champion, speaking on the eve of the Tuscan Grand Prix weekend at Mugello, added that he was “sorry for Sergio” but said the Mexican was a “great driver and hopefully he will other options.”
He added, “I was really pleased to hear it, the team has new ownership and has already taken huge steps forward.” The world champion feels Vettel’s nous will “help steer that team in a better direction in terms of car development”.
McLaren biggest deficit is infrastructure
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl admits that the Woking team has to complete plans to update its infrastructure if it is to compete with the top teams in the future.
The teams are currently third in the constructor’s championship, but Seidl believes that they will be unable to close the gap to Mercedes and Red Bull until the facilities are complete. McLaren currently uses Toyota’s wind tunnel in Cologne but is building its own as part of its upgrading strategy.
The team will also be switching to Mercedes engines, which should also allow them to make further progress. Seidl told Motorsport.com, “Obviously, we have a clear plan in place what we think we need to do within the team in the next years in order to get back to the front in F1.”
“This involves different aspects in terms of organisation, in terms of people, structure also. But I’m very happy with the progress we made already.”
“The biggest deficit we have at the moment, to the bigger organisations that are the usual suspects, Ferrari, Red Bull Mercedes, also Renault to certain degree, is that we have a big deficit on the infrastructure side.” Seidl says the team still has work to do and there is a limit at the moment.
He says the team is currently at the limit of what it can do and at some point, there needs to be a level playing field in terms of infrastructure, for example, wind tunnel, simulators and CFD as well as production.
Seidl says that they need to be realistic in what they can achieve, and they are hoping the new regulation they can come back up through the field.
Ferrari’s special 1,000th race livery
Ferrari is to run a one-off livery for this weekends Tuscan Grand Prix as the team mark their 1,000th Grand Prix, the cars will be dark red, which the team say is a reproduction of the first Ferrari F1 car, the 125 F1 from 1950.
Drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will wear race suits in the same colour, while fans will be allowed to attend for the first time this year. Mercedes have also repainted the safety car red in tribute to Ferrari.
Mick Schumacher, the son of Michael Schumacher, Ferrari’s and F1’s most successful driver, will do a demonstration run on race morning in his father’s final championship-winning car, the F2004.
Vice president and son of founder Enzo Ferrari, Piero said the team’s 1,000th Grand Prix was “a very important milestone which had to be marked in a special way”.
He added: “It’s a tribute to our origins: to our starting point for the amazing Ferrari story, characterised by an endless desire to compete, alongside the will to build road cars that are exceptional in terms of technology and design.
But the teams 1,000th Grand Prix comes amidst its worst seasons in three decades, it a car that has lost engine performance as a result of a series of rule clarifications over the winter and a secret agreement with governing body the FIA, which believed the Ferrari engine was not running legally at all times last year but could not prove it.
Also off the back of two difficult weekends, including a double retirement at Monza. Mugello, the team expects to be better than Monza however the team aren’t expected to challenge Mercedes and Red Bull.
The 3.26-mile circuit is situated in the Tuscan hills, not far from Florence, and is renowned for its challenging nature and flowing, high-speed corners. The most famous of these are the two Arrabbiata – or ‘spicy’ – right-handers in the middle of the lap.
Vettel, a four-time champion who is leaving the team at the end of the season, said: “It’s a great honour to be driving a Ferrari in what is the 1,000th Grand Prix for this, the longest-serving of all F1 teams. It will be even more of a pleasure to celebrate the anniversary at Mugello and also because for the first time this season, a few spectators will be allowed into the grandstands.”
Gasly speaks of the mindset of Monza
Pierre Gasly has shed more light on the mindset he believes he proved key in rebuilding his career at Alpha Tauri after his demotion from Red Bull and which led him to his first F1 victory last weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
Even before his surprising win at Monza, the Frenchman has delivered some good results which have led to suggestions that he could return to Red Bull. Although the team has tired over the past few weeks to downplay the chances, and Gasly saying he is ‘ready’ for a return.
Asked if he therefore just had to ensure he made himself impossible to ignore with his form, Gasly told Sky Sports, “That’s obviously the target. After everything that happened over the last 18 months, I felt there were things which were not so fair and I wanted to make my answers on track.”
“I never came in the media [and aired his thoughts] because I felt like it wasn’t professional and, even though I did agree with a few things that were said.”
He says following that he decided to “ok, just focus on your performance, focus on yourself, day after day, race after race,” focusing on trying to improve yourself as a driver.
Gasly added “the podium last year in Brazil was already amazing, we didn’t expect that, and then just a couple of months later to get my first win with Alpha Tauri was probably the best answer. But at the moment I think it’s important to enjoy it with the team, Alpha Tauri, and we’ll see what opportunities it brings for the future.”
Gasly received congratulatory messages from Christian Horner and Helmut Marko at Red Bull, as well as multiple world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Alpha Tauri reviles inside story of Monza win
Alpha Tauri has told Motorsport.com, that it has a special automated voice system, nicknamed the ‘blonde American’, to ensure it doesn’t make the gaffe that Mercedes made in the Italian Grand Prix.
At Monza, Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of victory were dashed when he was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for entering the pitlane when it was closed. The six-times champion had not seen the light signals warning him that the pitlane was shut, while the Mercedes team said it did not spot warning messages put on the FIA screens.
That blunder opened the way for Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly to take his maiden Formula 1 victory. team manager Graham Watson told the website in an interview that he put in place a special voice system at his team several years ago to avoid his outfit ever making the mistake Mercedes did.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com revealing the inside story of Alpha Tauri’s victory, Watson explains who his team’s idea ensures that no messages from the FIA are missed.
He said “I guess Mercedes don’t have anything similar, because otherwise, they would have known,” he said. “But on our pit wall about three years ago I instigated a computerised voice-over on all messages from the FIA.”
“So when the FIA – that message comes up on page three – says ‘pitlane is closed’, I get a computer-generated voice telling me. It is a woman, I call her the blonde American, because of the accent. She was saying ‘pitlane is closed’.”
“Engineers were saying we could bring Daniil [Kvyat] under the safety car, and I started screaming ‘no, don’t come in, don’t come in, don’t come in’. And they all looked at me, and I said ‘the pit entry is closed, the pit entry is closed’.”
Watson did admit to questioning the decision when Hamilton pitted, but the system was correct.
Mercedes says it is now looking to making changes to its pitlane software to ensure it does not miss similar messages in the future.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend we are heading into a bit of unknown as this is a new circuit, however, you need to believe that it’s a circuit which will in normal circumstances favour Mercedes. Red Bull may struggle with the high speed and downforce and the freak result at Monza may bring them back.
Mercedes following defeat in recent years have come back stronger, this is not a new circuit and there are gravel traps. The speed is going to be incredible. In practice, we normally see more running because of it being a ‘new venue’, expect drivers to make mistakes and that can carry throughout the weekend.
Ferrari celebrates its 1,000th race in F1, they are expecting they can be better than Monza, but you still need to believe they won’t be performing around the same level as Mercedes and Red Bull. Again expect their battle to be behind McLaren and Racing Point.
Sebastian Vettel’s future is decided there will be talk about that, and some will question the timing with Ferrari’s anniversary. But I think it’s a statement of intent by Vettel to recover his reputation and have a reset, it could help the team to make that next step.
Alpha Tauri you need to say come into this race in a good position following the freak result at Monza can they use that as motivation to have a strong start to the second half of this season. The battle has been tight in the midfield and that will continue…
You can join us for LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix via Twitter @FormulaOneVault starting with FP1 Friday from 10:45 CEST / 09:45 BST, Qualifying 14:45/13:45 and forward race coverage 14:40/13:40 lights out 15:10 / 14:10