Nearly four months after declaring himself a free agent at this season’s end, Sebastian Vettel has a place to call home for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season. That place is the BWT Racing Point F1 Team, which will be rebranded as the Aston Martin F1 team for next season, as Vettel is set to serve as one of the team’s two competitors.
Vettel, a four-time Formula One champion from Heppenheim, West Germany, is currently in his sixth and final season with Scuderia Ferrari. He was one of the first names to pop up on the free agency list in May and while this year’s Formula One season was delayed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when his departure from Ferrari at the conclusion of this season was confirmed. Shortly after Vettel’s departure was announced, Carlos Sainz Jr. was named as his replacement for next season as he will be a teammate to current Ferrari competitor Charles Leclerc.
Initially uncertain about his future plans following this season, Vettel’s move to Aston Martin scratches his name off the Silly Season topic and it reaffirms his goal in being competitive for himself and the rebranded organization for next season.
“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future,” Vettel said. “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 [businessman] Lawrence [Stroll] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together,” Vettel added. “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 move to Aston Martin will mark his fifth different team he has driven for since making his Formula One debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the BMW Sauber F1 Team, which skyrocketed into an illustrious racing career in F1. Among his accomplishments include recording the first win for the Toro Rosso F1 Team in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, winning four consecutive championships from 2010 to 2013 with Red Bull Racing and finishing in second place in the final standings in 2017 and 2018. Currently, he has won 53 Formula One career races, which is third most all time behind Michael Schumacher (91) and Lewis Hamilton (89). Fourteen of his 53 F1 wins have come while driving for Ferrari from 2015 to 2019.
Through the first eight races of this year’s Formula One season, Vettel is ranked in 13th place in the Drivers’ standings as he trails six-time reigning champion Lewis Hamilton by 148 points. He has achieved four top-10 results and a best result of sixth place during the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, but he has also sustained two DNFs with Ferrari struggling to keep pace on the track.
Vettel’s move to Aston Martin came a day after Sergio “Checo” Perez confirmed that he will be departing the team at the conclusion of this season, despite his initial contract lasting through 2022.
Perez, a native from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in his seventh season with the team. He joined the organization in 2014 when it was branded as the Force India F1 Team. Midway into the 2018 season, Force India was placed into administration and Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll, father of current F1 competitor Lance Stroll, purchased the assets of the team and the team was renamed to Racing Point Force India. The move allowed Perez, the employees and the team to resume and complete the season.
This season, Perez has notched six top-10 results, including a best result of fifth place during the Spanish Grand Prix in August, and he is ranked in 11th place through the first eight Formula One races of this season, trailing Hamilton 130 points. He was absent from both F1 races at the Silverstone Circuit in August (British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix) after he tested positive for COVID-19 symptoms prior to the main event. During his absence, Nico Hülkenberg filled in Perez’s Racing Point car, where he did not start the British Grand Prix due to an engine failure before coming back to qualify in third place and finish in seventh place in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Before his move to Aston Martin, Vettel has nine races left with Ferrari this season, beginning with this weekend’s Tuscan Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in Scarperia e San Piero, Tuscany, Italy. The race will occur on September 13 as Ferrari will also celebrate its 1,000th entry in Formula One with a special Burgundy livery scheme on the Ferrari cars driven by Vettel and Leclerc during the event.