Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Mugello, 2020

Vettel came “close” to quitting F1 before deciding to join Aston Martin

2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Sebastian Vettel said he came close to retiring from Formula 1 after his departure from Ferrari was announced.

However the four-times world champion confirmed today he will join Racing Point, which is to become Aston Martin, for the 2021 F1 season.

Asked by RaceFans how close he came to retiring from F1, Vettel said: “Close.”

“I don’t know if there was a measure of how close you can get,” he continued, “but it was close in terms of having a lot of thoughts and deciding ultimately I have to put myself first in that regard, what’s best for me. And what I have decided now I believe that’s best for me and I’m looking forward to prove that.”

Vettel believes the team are well-placed to make progress when the budget cap is introduced in Formula 1, as they won’t have to scale their operations down as others are doing. But he said it “wasn’t an easy call”

“The last weeks and months have been quite intense for me, a different and new situation to be in,” he said. “As I’ve put out from day one, I felt like I want to remain in Formula 1 if there’s something that really attracts me. And it was, I think, getting more and more clear.

“The team’s performances this year obviously are very encouraging. I think even more so, though, is the fact that where the regulations are going into hopefully a more and more level playing field. It will be a lot of firsts, and the first time for the team to be in a position to have probably the same money as other teams and show what they are capable of.

“Anything I can do to help I’m very excited about and looking forward to. So things are coming in the right time.”

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Racing Point have made a significant step forward in performance this year with their RP20, which is closely based on last year’s Mercedes W10. The FIA will introduce new regulations next year preventing teams from ‘reverse engineering’ rivals’ designs in the same way. However Vettel said he isn’t concerned that will compromise his future team.

“Obviously there’s been a lot of talk in the recent weeks about this topic but to be honest this didn’t really play a big role for me because I’m more convinced in the team and the strength of the team,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“For obvious reasons – not having the money in the recent years to perform on a similar level as the big teams – I think they have done remarkably well. There’s definitely enough guts in that team to prove people wrong.

“So I think even with all the things you have mentioned I don’t think they will change things much. There’s a huge potential for growth and I’m looking forward to join the team and trying to help with everything that I know, all the experience that I have and what I do in the car to try to grow the team as much as possible that we find ourselves in a competitive spot on the grid.

“Obviously I can’t make any predictions but there’s definitely hope and believe in the team and the people that are there. I think they’re capable and for the first time they equipped with a decent tool set.”

Perez was informed by the team yesterday his contract was being cut short. “In terms of the announcement, it’s not been a long time since it was final,” said Vettel. “Obviously, it was Checo made the announcement last night and then I think it was only right to sort of respond straightaway.”

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2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Ferrari 1000

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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41 comments on “Vettel came “close” to quitting F1 before deciding to join Aston Martin”

  1. Well, I hope he enjoys his life at Aston Martin and shows us all that he can still drive a car well enough to win and have fans loving what they are seeing. The RP team certainly has shown that it is capable enough of delivering when they get the resources to do it with in the past.

  2. Big expectations for Vettel now to show why he deserves the seat

    1. He can practise in the red car for a few months.

  3. Now that you have said that I’m sure Perez wished you had.

  4. I’m glad for Seb because it seemed like he was down and out but my first thought when I heard was, “I wonder how Ferrari treats him going forward after this news?
    Racing Point are virtually big time competition for Ferrari right now obviously a little faster at the moment but they could be banging wheels next year.

    1. I listened to Riccardo talk about this with regards what he would do when racing McLaren this season, and he rightly said that they wouldn’t respect him if he were to hold something back in order to compromise his current team Renault.

      I’d like to think Vettel will act in a similarly professional manner. I’m not entirely sure what knowledge RP would want from Ferrari beyond what Vettel can store in his head. Ferrari are already treating Vettel badly anyway so it will probably be no real change – could even be the opposite now they know they’re not responsible for throwing him out of F1.

      1. I have no doubt that Ferrari will be happy for Seb, that Seb will be professional, and that Ferrari will be professional towards SV. It’s not like they will have some tap dancing to do to ensure CL gets the bulk of the points, as they’re only fighting to maximize their WCC standing in the mid-field, and that will take everything they can give both drivers.

        Similarly RP are likely professional enough to expect Seb to fulfill his contract with Ferrari for the season and continue to race them (RP) as much and as hard as before. After all, driver changes happen all the time, and do we ever hear of strife from a driver intentionally sandbagging against his soon-to-be-new team? No we don’t. All we ever hear about is the natural diminishing of certain types of info a departing driver may normally be privy to, as the season winds down along with said drivers tenure.

  5. Don’t hold your breath just yet, Seb. Ferrari is much focused in 2022. I believe Renault as well.
    RedBull and McLaren will start soon.
    This is going to be fun.

    1. focused like the last years… very…

      1. The same Ferrari whose team principal just said last week they could be years from getting back to the top? ;)

        But you’re right, 2022 is going to be a blast.

  6. It is funny and surprising how things turn around. I recall that is was not all that long ago, maybe the summer of 2018, that Perez was being talked about quite seriously as a replacement for Raikkonen at Ferrari. He would have then been in most people’s eyes no.2 to Vettel. Then earlier this year, suddenly after a disappointing season and a half with Ferrari, Vettel was out on his ear and the rumours were that no one would touch him and his F1 career was over.

    Now here we are a couple of months later and things have evolved. Vettel is now destined to be at the leading light at the shiny new Aston Martin team and Perez is cast to one side. Who would have imagined this turn of events two years ago.

    1. @phil-f1-21 I believe the most serious links for Perez to Ferrari were in 2012 (when he was in their young driver program) and 2016.

  7. Basically, Vettel worked (in a deal brokered by Toto Wolff) to see Perez sacked from his seat. That’s not very nice.

    1. Welcome to the world of F1.
      This sport is full of people not being nice, all the time.

    2. I guess that was more Aston Martin/Stroll sr. that hired Vettel as the best option available for both team and his son. They already now how it is Perez (really consistent on sunday, able to deliver, prone to lose his temper in fight with team mate, not the fastest guy in saturday) and decided to go one step further with the german, 4 times world champion and still one of the fastest guy in the world, confindent that in the right environment could lead the team and Stroll jr. to new goals.

      Yes, it was no nice for Perez. But this is F1, everyone know it.

  8. Now he just needs to try and reverse engineer the Vettel from 10 years ago and get his head back in the game!

    1. Lol, good one. As I said somewhere else, a change is as good as a rest, as the saying goes, so it’s going to be enthralling to watch how SV goes next year and beyond. I know I wasn’t ready to see SV gone from F1.

    2. Seb always wanted to drive a Mercedes.

  9. I’m curious if this is Seb’s way of getting into Mercedes after a couple of years at AM.

    1. @hobo Perhaps, but then it’s not like he had a ton of options.

      1. @robbie – Umm, maybe and maybe not. If he wanted to drop his price he might have been able to get a different seat earlier in the year. Who knows? Not me.

        But I find it interesting that the one seat he is willing to take, is for the second Merc team, whose owner is close with Toto, and when Merc repeatedly signs Bottas to one-year deals. I’m not saying that an eventual move to Merc is likely, nor that Merc/Wolff/HAM would necessarily allow it. Just thinking out loud.

        1. @hobo I think if Hamilton left, Mercedes would have eyes only for Verstappen. Even if they’ll have to wait a year for his contract to finish.

          1. @mashiat Or they finally get Russel in 2022 and will be happy with him for the years after.

          2. @f1osauruss I wasn’t talking about Verstappen instead of Russell, but rather, to pair up with Russell.

          3. I wasn’t talking about Hamilton leaving. Was referring to Bottas. @mashiat

          4. @mashiat Either way, I think they’d be set with Russel. Paired with either Bottas or Hamilton. Why would they need Verstappen? Besides Verstappen is only available from 2023.

          5. @f1osaurus Hamilton/Russell works for me. Russell/Bottas doesn’t, as neither of them have proved to be capable of fighting for WDCs, although I believe Russell has the potential to in future. Russell needs someone more experienced to learn from, instead of instantly becoming the main contender for a team like Mercedes (since Bottas sure as hell won’t). We’re also still yet to understand his true level, and he has gone against unknown quantities in Kubica and Latifi so far. Ocon went up against Perez and beat him 17-4 in qualifying, and yet now is struggling to get near Ricciardo. Same could happen to Russell, so it would be too big a risk to put him alongside a number 2 driver like Bottas.

          6. @mashiat Verstappen hasn’t shown he can fight for a WDC either. More the opposite, he keeps losing races he should have been winning. Many Monaco and Mexico races or Singapore and Malaysia. There were many cases where Red Bull had the better car and he messed it up.

            Ricciardo looked much better as far as WDC challenge goes. But I guess Red Bull went with the “potential” of Verstappen to one day improve and become a more complete driver.

  10. I don’t think retirement will be long coming anyway. A season of being beaten by Stroll (yes, I really do think that’ll happen) and he’ll be off.

    1. @tflb I really doubt it. Not saying it’s not possible for LS to best SV next year, but just saying that won’t send SV away, and I think SV still loves F1 and will be stoked to be part of AM’s 2022 project and drive the new era cars.

    2. Do you think Stroll is Leclerc? Come on…

      1. No, I don’t think he is, but AM are going to be building their car around him, not Vettel. And anyway, he doesn’t have to be as good as Leclerc to beat Vettel.

  11. So Perez/Hulkenberg could be a possibility for Haas? That would be a much better lineup than what they currently have.

  12. I like Seb, and hope a new beginning is all he needed to re-start a championship-caliber career…

    However, if Stroll out-qualifies him or finishes higher in Australia…

  13. Seb just needs to take a deep breath and reset. I would not bet against him winning again.

  14. Bad move by Racing Point. Will Vettel last one season at this team?

  15. I can’t wait for the tantrum-spin festival we are about to see.

    1. Bit harsh?!But oh so correct!!

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