RaceFans image: How Sebastian Vettel could look as an Aston Martin driver

Little doubt over identity of replacement for “hurt” Perez at Aston Martin

2020 F1 season

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Less than two weeks ago, Sergio Perez was still making positive noises about his future at Racing Point.

“I feel that we, both parties, we want to carry on and we believe in each other and we believe in the project,” he said when asked about his future plans ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. “So nothing really more to say.”

Today he had rather a lot more to say. In a social media statement he confirmed he won’t drive for the team next year.

It came just over 12 months since he agreed a three-year deal to remain with the pink team. Perez signed that deal full of optimism about the future of the team he first joined in 2014, when it was still known as Force India. The Silverstone-based squad had a deserved reputation for punching well above its weight, which Perez’s five podium finishes was a fine example of.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020
Perez has confirmed he is leaving Racing Point
In 2018, at the instigation of a company owned by Perez, the team had gone into administration, triggering the process through which Lawrence Stroll acquired it. The beleaguered outfit benefitted from the much-needed investment he provided.

So when Perez inked his new deal in the middle of last year and said “I believe the best times are still to come and I look forward to celebrating plenty of podiums in the years ahead”, he knew what he was talking about. The proof lies in the remarkable performance of the RP20 – whatever its rivals may think of how Racing Point designed it.

But a lot has changed since Perez signed that deal. Stroll bought Aston Martin and announced his team will adopt its brand from the 2021 F1 season, in a deal first uncovered by RaceFans last December.

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Meanwhile Ferrari announced it will part ways with Sebastian Vettel at the end of this season. Four-times world champions with 53 grand prix wins to their name do not come on the market very often.

As long as he wishes to continue racing, Vettel was always likely to find a seat elsewhere. With doors closed at Mercedes and Red Bull, what is his next-best option? His appeal to a brand like Aston Martin, given its aspirations to be regarded as an equal to Ferrari, is obvious.

Sightings of Perez elbow-bumping with Stroll and taking a lift from Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer prompted the inevitable speculation. Was this a deal in the works, or a means of applying pressure to Perez to wring more money from his sponsors? Now we have our answer.

Perez isn’t the first driver to find himself eased out of a seat before the end of his contract. But even by F1 standards, being cut one year into a three-year deal is tough, particularly as the current season started four months late due to Covid-19.

He was clearly the superior performer of the team’s two drivers last year. Lance Stroll’s current 57-34 lead in the points standings does not reflect the unchanged situation between the pair this year, largely due to Perez’s two-race absence and the sharply contrasting fortunes of the two drivers last Sunday. But you don’t need to be a cynic to think the decision which driver should make way for Vettel had less to do with performance than paternity.

In his statement Perez said the situation “hurts a bit”. It’s easy to empathise. This was the team he turned to the year after he lost his McLaren drive, and with the Stroll investment and Aston Martin rebranding, it seemed his patience was finally about to get its reward.

In Racing Point’s statement, team CEO Otmar Szafnauer said much about Perez being an asset to the team, and nothing about why they have severed a three-year deal halfway through year one. That spoke volumes.

Main image: How Vettel could look in Aston Martin overalls.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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84 comments on “Little doubt over identity of replacement for “hurt” Perez at Aston Martin”

  1. Small typo in elbow bump.

  2. Sightings of Perez elbow-bumping with Stroll and taking a lift from Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer prompted the inevitable speculation

    Sightings of *Vettel

  3. Sightings of Vettel not Perez

  4. Kimi trundling around at the back in the Alfa Romeo, Seb trundling around the mid-field when the rule changes clip RP/AM’s advantage, Alonso trundling around… Wherever Renaults performance is that weekend.

    All these former champs doing their reputations and legacies more harm than good while Lewis runs away with all the trophies and records.

    Funny sport, F1.

    1. I respectfully semi-disagree…as long as someone appreciates their services, true racers should race even when everything is not going their way. Of course, there is a point when one should know to move on and make room for new talent, but Vettel is not at that point…Räikkönen and Alonso should think hard about it, though.

      1. I would disagree. Who care about reputation. They are getting paid obscene amount of money. Having fun. So why stop ?

        1. I think it is very selfish if money is the motive. They have more than enough.

          There are other drivers that are just as good Leclerc, Norris, Verstappen, Ricciardio, Sainz and some that couldn’t get a seat that should really have them like Da Costa.

          1. what do you mean they have more than enough? they get paid to do something they love. I don’t think it’s their job to make room for other drivers. every market is all about supply & demand.
            I think Kimi should have called it quits after leaving Lotus though

          2. Costa? You mean the Americano.

        2. Of course Stroll’s position is the most selfish of all!

      2. I think you are right there @gpfacts. We should be happy to have guys like Kimi, Vettel, Alonso accepting lesser cars for the fun of driving them and giving us more excitement in the midfield when circumstances and the car allow the to do so.

        I really liked to see Kimis solid defensive driving last sunday, despite his car being clearly on the way back in the field after the restart. And I think that a motivated Vettel and Alonso can do so much to make the midfield even more intense and rewarding to watch.

        Just to think about Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo, Norris, Ocon, Gasly, Shwarzman, Tsunoda, Albon and Sainz and Leclerc (and with a bit of luck Russel to join in too after 2021) fighting with relatively closely matched equipment is great. And the budget cap and car changes from 2022 onwards might work to bring Mercedes and Verstappen in reach of some of them too.

  5. What an utter disgrace.

  6. A real backwards step for Aston Martin/Racing Point.
    On performance alone I’d take Perez before we even look at what he has done for the team in the last few years. Unjustified.

    1. +1

      Besides Vettel signing for a Merc “Customer” team knows he would never take the fight to Hamilton. He must have accepted by now he is not good enough for that either..

    2. Wasn’t Perez beaten by just about all of his teammates at this point, now even Stroll? He might be charismatic but more than a midfield driver he is not and has never been.

      1. He’s performed better than Stroll, and I still think he will outscore Lance by the end of the season.
        I like Seb as a character but I don’t really think he is much better than a top end midlfield driver either and they’d have been better off with the guy who spins and crashes less, saved the team and brings a lot of sponsorship money and will have a lower salary.
        Other than being a big name, I don’t really get what Seb brings to the RP/AM that Perez doesn’t.

      2. No, not really… he beat Kobayashi, beat Hulkenberg, beat Ocon and beat Stroll. Has been clearly better than Stroll this year as well, but Stroll has been in luck. That only leaves Perez being beaten by Button, but he didn’t do too badly against him.

      3. He has beaten more team mates than Seb, that’s for sure.

        1. Vettel has beaten Speed & Liuzzi (with less than half a season), Bourdais, Webber five times, and Raikkonen 4 times. Until this year, only Ricciardo in 2014 and Leclerc in 2019 beat him. Funnily enough, the same amount of times a certain 6 time champion has been beaten over a season. 5 different teammates beat over 11 seasons.

          Perez lost to Kobayashi in 2011, Button in 2013 and Hulkenberg in 2014. Leaving him with 4 different teammates beat over 6 seasons.

          Given when they both started in F1, they’ve more or less done a very similar job in regards to beating teammates.

          1. Funnily enough, the certain 6-time champion has triumphed over those teammates that beat him (one season) twice in 3 seasons and three times in 4 seasons (in chronological order). The 4-time champion has never beaten those teammates that defeated him.
            The certain 6-time champion has beaten all of his teammates (at least once), according to the FIA classification at the end of each season.
            These details shed a better light on your statement.

      4. Paul Villanueva
        10th September 2020, 6:12

        It is actually all the way around, Perez has beaten Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Ocon, and Stroll.

    3. Fully agree. Can’t understand why the team would want this. Blind nostalgia

    4. Yeah, I don’t get it. Perez brought good money, good results, and he got along alright with Stroll.

      Vettel probably won’t manage all three as well.

      Maybe his biggest advantage is allowing Stroll to beat a 4 time champion occasionally.

      1. Yep that’s exactly what I’m thinking this is about, putting Stroll next to a past his prime 4 time champion so Stroll can look good.

        1. In combination with appeal to new sponsors; yeah, we sponsor a 4xWDC

    5. They’ll regret this one for sure. Cheap consistency thrown away for expensive unjustified hype.

    6. Fully agree. I feel so sorry for Perez and I won´t be a supporter of Aston Martin that´s for sure..

    7. Indeed, absolutely pathetic, imo atm it’s perez > stroll = vettel, I know about the standings, but you have to consider the circumstances, stroll is not as bad as anti-pay drivers say he is but he’s not yet at perez’s level, and vettel is just terrible lately, even accounting for ferrari situation. Ferrari was better early on this year, look what he did.

  7. Vettel must be the replacement exactly because Pérez had 2021 contract and good results…Lawrence Stroll would not be getting rid of him for just anybody, and four-time World Champion is not just anybody. I would expect Pérez (and his sponsors) to land at Haas, which might become some sort of new North American Team. They would probably announce Vettel just after the Ferrari celebrations at Mugello are over.

    1. Coventry Climax
      10th September 2020, 1:08

      We see shops in the streets with ‘since 1876’ painted on the windows. You think the same shopkeeper still works there? You think they still have the same suppliers? You think they still work like they did back then? What’s it worth then?
      So what value brings a ‘four time champ’ that’s been performing like crap over the past 4 years, showing no motivation or fighting spirit whatsover, other than fooling the average, non-critical consumer?
      If Vettel goes to RP/AM indeed, I expect him to be beaten by Stroll, fairly and squarely, and by a huge margin. Start finding your excuses already; new to the team, not his type of car etc.

      1. you know, MSC probably contributed a lot to Mercedes, even though he didn’t perform great , during the 2010-2012 seasons. maybe it will be the same for Vettel. of course, Vettel has declined a lot since 2013 (not the case with MSC) but I still think his experience will be invaluable, even if he doesn’t perform as well as he used which (which I wish he does)

        1. ‘you know’ ?
          Yes I do, but I don’t agree; ‘probably contributed’ is an assumption only ever made by those who’d like to think so. Never heard of his many engineering degrees and titles (aero, chemical with specializations on fuel and rubber compounds, CFD, mechanical for the best suspension systems, or even management).
          So, his knowledge was restricted to being able to explain what he’d like the car to do. I’m sure he was quite good at that, but so were -and are- many others. Even if he ‘probably contributed to Mercedes’ at the time, we’re now living in a completely different time; different rules, different gimmicks, different PU-formula etc.
          So I’m back with my ‘1876’ example.
          F1 is a team sports, MS was very lucky to be in a team that functioned extremely well, as is LH these days. Sure these guys have qualities and maybe even some more then others, but let’s not attribute them devine powers please.
          Back to Vettel: to my opinion it’s a silly switch. Apart from the buzz around his name, there’s nothing he can contribute that someone else can’t. Back with the ‘non-critical consumer’ part.

      2. Haha no, but if they are open since 1876 they are Clearly doing a good job.

  8. So timing wise Vettel will probably announce his move during the 1000th Ferrari grand Prix where the scarlet cars will probably end up behind the pink cars and take some light out of all the “Ferrari heritage and history” stories of the weekend replacing it with “Vettel will join the better team next year” stories. Smooth :D

    1. @tango I did think the timing was odd given that Ferrari would want to make a big event of their 1000th GP on the publicity side. The livery is proof of that.

      Would be interested to see who made the decision for Perez to comment now and their motivation behind it. I cant see any reason why this couldn’t have waited until after the.weekend.

      If someone did want to stir the pot then I am not sure it is Vettel. It is obvious that this is a tetchy divorce but there is too much respect for him to rain on Ferrari’s parade.

      1. such big event that they even painted the safetycar and doctorscar red for it… so yes that is a pretty big deal

  9. Makes zero sense. In his current form Vettel can barely put a fault free race together let alone a championship!

    1. Vettel is a spent force.

    2. Coventry Climax
      10th September 2020, 1:13

      Absolutely agree.
      The ‘photo’ is nicely done, but it gives me a bad taste really, to see Vettel in British Racing Green – he’s not worthy of it!

    3. Getting kicked out the door and being stuck with a crap car, who would be motivated to perform?

    4. Maybe he just needs to change the team, change the car. The British operation where everyone knows what they’re doing is a far better fit to an analytical and systematic person such as him, and this car (with additional new Mercedes bits from the next year) should suit him very well – carbon copy of Mercedes, stable at the back etc. The last time he raced with more downforce (in terms of stability of the car) was probably 2013.

      1. I’ve rarely seen Vettel perform if not starting on the front row. His driving in traffic skills are sub par. So they know what to do at Aston. Thats their only chance they have with him.

    5. Agreed. Wasted seat really. But it´s all about the money (marketing)..

  10. He’s a good upgrade for the team imo. to go with the new infrastructure and later Mercedes bits. Now we’ll see Seb with a more solid back end again, let’s hope the mistakes disappear. I think they might, almost in a Mercedes.

    It should hopefully be part of a much better midfield generally, with McLaren and Renault coming up as well.

    1. he was having the most solid of the solid back ends with Kimi and still producing mistakes every couple of hours. of racing, I mean.

      1. I don’t think that Ferrari had a solid back end @alfa145. It was a definite thing that if a front wheel touched something with any lateral resistance the back would come round. The Green Mercedes will be better than that.

        1. I interpreted your “solid back end” in a figurative sense, meaning a solid support from Ferrari. now I understand you meant it the literal way

  11. I predict Perez to Haas, Grosjean out.

    1. +1 Love to see Perez and Hulkenburg at HAAS. And for HAAS’s two current drivers, well you can safely guess the rest.

      1. I hope for Illot getting the seat at Haas. Everyone can dream.

    2. Grosjean will probably replace Kimi at Alfa. He always gets a seat somehow.

  12. Paul T Ortenburg
    9th September 2020, 23:36

    I have a dream! (Yeah I know it will never happen)

    GAS to RB#2 in 2021

    PER and HUL to AlphaTauri.

    ALB and KVY – Thanks for the memories, maybe one of you can get Kimi’s old seat and the other can go HAAS.

    1. I have a dream too :))
      VET to RBR
      ALB to AT
      RUS to RP
      PER to HAAS
      KVY and GRO can get a seat at WIL or AR

      Mine will probably not happen either although it surprises me that I haven’t seen a lot of people say that RUS will replace PER. Makes more sense to me than VET…

  13. It will be embarrassing when Vettel is outperformed by Stroll…

  14. Hearing that Mercedes is releasing Bottas so Mercedes will have room for Lance Stroll. Why?? Because its Formula One.
    And money controls everything.

    1. Lance? Is that you???

    2. Honestly wouldn’t be surprised if stroll can perform as well as bottas, he isn’t a pay driver of 2000s and bottas is a barrichello, think about it, can’t be that far. No competition for hamilton though, but not many current drivers would bring that.

  15. Personally I’d rather like to see Perez in Albon’s seat, or better still Bottas’. Two wasted seats. Not going to happen, but still, would be nice. I always liked Force India, but as Racing Point they’re the least likeable team by far. Bending the rules to copy someone else’s car, then kicking out the guy who saved the team in favour of a washed-up vanity signing, while the owner’s son will never be under threat. It just stinks a bit.

    1. Stinks worse than Vijay business, the guy at least had some heart.

    2. Owner’s son…what else do you expect?
      Stroll senior is doing the entire racing point project for Stroll junior. In fact, he is one of the best dads in the world.

      Fans should get real. Not sure why Lewis has not signed with Merc yet. Hope Stroll is not going to be bumped up into his seat though.

      1. I think Lewis wants more money. then he can focus on saving the world and “community”. ha!

  16. Do we know if F1 contracts are guaranteed? Hopefully they are, or at the very least he has a buyout clause.

  17. With the pressure off having to put Ferrari in the spotlight, I think he might deliver some quality mid-field runs. Been a long time since the stakes weren’t so high for Vettel.

  18. Inb4 they make a surprise Hulkenberg announcement!!!

  19. I’m sad about this, I liked Perez. Cmon F1 :) If I were him I would choose Indy with those nice loud cars instead of Haas or Alfa. Probably an Alpha Tauri seat instead of Kvyat as the last good looking option for a good midfield driver, if they will not promote Tsunoda, what is a bit unlikely as Honda likely really wants to see a nice Japanese driver finally.

    1. Perez may become a sensible driver choice for Haas, brings a decent pair of hands and pockets with decent sponsorship money (makes decisions easier for Gene). But IndyCar is also a sensible choice if he can get a seat.

  20. Seems to make sense to me. VET comes in as the #1 driver next year and provides mentoring to STR. They race as equals the following year and the expectation that STR is the #1 driver in year 3.

  21. Reminds me the Hill’s story…

  22. Just want to raise the question here…

    Is Seb really, actually, that good? Was he ever really that good? He had 4 years in a dominant car, and while some bury their head in the sand on the topic, it is a valid one and cannot be denied.

    I’m not saying he wasn’t. But I do think it is a valid question. The accolades people use to describe drivers are often weighted much too heavily.

    1. He won those races on merit. When he had a dominant car in 2011 and the second half of 2013 (still not as dominant as the Mercedes 2014-20) he won races more convincingly than Hamilton in the hybrid era.

    2. man, he did win 4 championships, he did beat Webber and Alonso (although the latter only had a real shot on 2010 & 2012). in 2008 he was amazing in Toro Rosso, not just at Monza. in 2010-2013 he was amazing. I think his talent was undeniable. not sure where it’s gone at the moment…

      1. I think vettel is specifically the worst driver who won at least 4 titles and might be in contention to be the worst champion ever, along the lines of hawthorn and keke rosberg.

        1. At least 3 titles*, cause obviously those who won 4+ are very few.

  23. If I was Haas I’d be moving in quick to lock in Checo. An experienced, tyre-friendly, sponsor heavy, North American driver seems like the perfect fit.

  24. I find it laughable that people, including this forum of all places, actually defend and make the claim that Babby-Stroll has somehow been competitive against Perez. Perez has had bad luck, quarantined for 2 races, and had his strategy sacrificed by Papa to benefit his Babby.

    That said, I don’t understand what Aston Martin need Vettel for. They had a story of Hardship, Sacrifice, and Rebirth with Perez. All they needed to do is find Success and it would have been a story fit for the history books, even with a pink Aston Martin (not that they’d go for that).

    They should have thrown the Babby out with the nepotistic bath water.

    1. Perez has had bad luck, missed 2 races, and is probably being given preferential treatment regarding car development.

      RP/AM as Team Stroll looks bad and is deterring fans. I liked to support Force India especially when they were leading the midfield without enough money to feed the printers. It’s hard to like the team now that it’s a platform for a driver who wouldn’t be in F1 if it weren’t for his Dad’s money.

    2. I thought they went for Vettel and Perez with Lance a reserve rol and when Perez contract was over Lance would be in the seat.

  25. It’s about marketing more than ability. Stroll Sr needs as much publicity as possible (same for Renault), so they put a has been in the seat who will get lots of media attention. They deserve each other.

  26. Congrats on the race suit sponsorship Keith!

  27. This was the worst kept secret in Formula One, but unfortunately, it seems Perez was deluded enough to trust whatever Lawrence Stroll and Otmar Szafnauer were feeding him.

    He would have learnt a valuable lesson through this situation – NEVER EVER trust an employer. These are people whose selfish interests are paramount above yours, and would stab you in the back in the blink of an eye if it served a purpose for them.

    Hopefully, lesson learnt.

  28. This is an interesting move. Until recently in his F1 career Vettel has always gotten preferential treatment. He is probably not going to get that at Racing Point considering whose dad owns the shop. It’s gonna be really interesting to see what happens in the moments when drivers come to close for comfort.

    I’ve not been convinced that Vettel has had the chomping at the bit mindset for a while and I don’t see how he will get that back at Aston Martin. He needs an excellent car and to be number 1. He is certainly not guaranteed that and he is definitely not a best of the rest driver..

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