Speculation around Sebastian Vettel’s post-Ferrari future has intensified in the lead up to this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix with rumours spreading like wildfire that the four-time world champion is linked to the soon-to-be-called Aston Martin F1 team in 2021.
The rumours were ignited by German publication Bild, the first news outlet that predicted Vettel’s exit from Ferrari, who reported that Racing Point (who will be rebranded as Aston Martin next season) have pushed forward with a contract deal to snatch Vettel’s services before he turns his interest elsewhere.
Racing Point Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, refused to give a blunt ‘no’ during last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix when quizzed on the suggestion his team is in negotiation with Vettel. Rather, he opted to hose down any rumours as a way to avoid any further questions.
“We have long contracts with both our drivers, so it would only be logical that we don’t have space,” was Szafnauer’s comment.
Sergio Perez is contracted with the team until 2022 while Stroll’s exact details remain shrouded in mystery.
Stroll’s father, Lawrence who owns the leading stake in Racing Point and led a consortium to invest heavily into Aston Martin, will unlikely wish to see his son leave the grid through lack of merit.
However, the prospect of such an accomplished driver like Vettel joining a team Stroll Snr is pushing to challenge for race victories and titles could see the outfit drop all manners of nepotism and ink a deal with a driver capable of steering the team in the right direction.
For Vettel, the 33-year-old has not shied away from the prospect of joining Aston Martin in 2021.
The team will offer Vettel a competitive package, one that is already arguable superior to the 2020 Ferrari car, and the opportunity to race with the all-conquering Mercedes power unit and gearboxes.
“I have a very competitive nature, I’ve achieved a lot in the sport and motivated and willing to achieve more,” said Vettel,
“To do so I need the right package, the right people around me. That’s what I’m looking out for at the moment. If the right opportunity should arise it’s quite clear.
“I think Racing Point left a very strong impression and is certainly in a good place for this year.
“I know part of the team, I know some members of the team quite well from my past and for a long time.
“I think it’s obviously a good opportunity for them this year to have a good car to fight with and try and improve that from there.”
A deal with Aston Martin could well be Vettel’s last opportunity to seal a drive on the 2021 grid as several doors begin to close, the most recent being Red Bull who firmly denied any allegation the team was interested in seeing their former star driver return to the team.
Meanwhile, Mercedes are set to stay on with its driver line-up of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas which has claimed three consecutive constructor championships since partnering together in 2017.