Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Yas Marina, 2022

Vettel could be ‘Plan B’ for Aston Martin if Stroll can’t race in Bahrain

2023 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel could make a shock return to Formula 1 following his retirement last year if Aston Martin require a replacement for Lance Stroll.

The team was unable to run Stroll during the three days of pre-season testing which concluded today in Bahrain after he injured his hands in a cycling accident.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said they still hope Stroll will be able to return in time for next weekend’s race. “It’s our Plan A,” he told media including RaceFans in Bahrain today.

Reserve driver Felipe Drugovich has done two half-days in the team’s AMR23 and is one option for the team should Stroll be unavailable. The team’s other reserve driver is Stoffel Vandoorne, who was unable to participate in testing as he was competing in a Formula E round in South Africa.

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Krack said either of those drivers could be the “Plan B” for Aston Martin. “We have some plan Bs, but we have to decide the plan B when the plan A is not possible.”

“It is something that we will have to discuss in the next days,” he added.

Asked whether recalling Vettel, who spent two seasons with Aston Martin before his retirement, was an option for the team, Krack said: “The plan B, we said already, that we will speak about next week.”

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Krack would not confirm whether Vettel expressed an interest in returning. “I have had a couple of phone calls with Sebastian,” he admitted, “but this has been also last year, and this will continue in the future.”

If Vettel were to return he would be partnered with his former championship rival Fernando Alonso. Vettel beat Alonso to the world championship in 2010 and 2012 when the pair drove for Red Bull and Ferrari respectively.

Alonso jumped at the opportunity to replace Vettel in Aston Martin’s line-up after the four-times world champion announced his retirement. Krack said the pair were markedly different characters, despite both being multiple champions.

“It’s very, very difficult to compare. Both are very, very fast drivers. Both have been world champions. But one is Latin, one is German so I think it’s difficult to really compare.

“Both have their own ways of communicating. Both have their own ways of handling, of dealing with the team. And I think it’s unfair to say one is better or is worse in these kind of areas. They are both great champions.”

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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17 comments on “Vettel could be ‘Plan B’ for Aston Martin if Stroll can’t race in Bahrain”

  1. I’m beginning to think that signing up to be a reserve driver for a team is the way to guarantee you won’t ever get to drive the car.

    1. Depends on how good you are this talk means this one isn’t good enough… (I heard Alonso also talking there was no feedback then his and he wished the Lance was in the other car to get a good compare)

  2. Ok.. This is a mouth watering prospect.

    Fernado and Sebastian, two elder champions even if it is only for one race…

    One past his prime retired.. And the other much older..

    1. Yes, absolutely. And especially if the Aston Martin is as good as all the latest hype in the paddock.

  3. I don’t see it. If he wasn’t ready to test this week, how is he going to be ready to race in just a couple of days?

    1. With broken wrists it’s no likely even if it’s bruised the chance to harm his long time health is too big. And yes those MotoGP drivers are hard but i see how after there carriere they struggle with problems….

  4. Yes. Even though part of me hates it. It would be a dream team and I want to see it happening at least for one race. Imagine all the media time they would get..

  5. He’s definitely done with F1 racing (Krack’s ‘very thorough plan in his mind for retirement’ reference is spot-on concerning this factor), so merely thinking about him is pointless.
    Besides, he said he’d make a one-off return only for Suzuka.
    Drugovich is the only one with actual driving experience in the AMR23, so he’d be the safest option for a one-off substitution, while Vandoorne has last raced in F1 more than four seasons ago & this happened in the previous aero cycle, so his previous two-season experience is hardly relevant for the present-generation GE cars.
    In this regard, even Mick would be a safer option for substitution purposes with active F1 racing from last season & thus, modern GE car generation.
    While Stroll mightn’t fully recover in time for the Bahrain GP, I’d be surprised if he didn’t fully recover by the Saudi Arabian GP.
    Additionally, I’ve been surprised by the team’s approach in Stroll’s injury case, especially when compared to COVID-infections & other medical situations among different drivers.
    While I can generally understand the privacy argument per se, a better approach would’ve been to be either fully truthful or say nothing in the first place, i.e., an all-or-nothing approach.

  6. If Lance has a broken bone in his wrist(s), a very likely situation, then he will probably be out for the first race and possibly the second. You can do miraculous things with tape, but you can’t take out the impact loads and bouncing in an F1 car.
    If this is the case, and the avoidance of medical info would tend to indicate it is, then if he comes back for the first race, expect him to miss the second.
    Seb is a non issues as I doubt he has maintained his physical training sufficiently to “hold his head up” in the car. Also not likely he has paid up his F1 driver’s license.
    Drugovich is the best positioned to take on the role. My bet, he gets two races to add to his resume.

  7. From the way things are presented in the media it seems Fernando has been pushing the team to levels of performance that Sebastian didn’t. It just doesn’t seem logical to ask Sebastian back unless they are really desperate because Fernando will be expecting him to agree with what he says, but Fernando won’t be happy agreeing with the things Sebastian says. Whoever drives alongside Fernando will be expected by Fernando to agree with him on most matters.

    1. From the way things are presented in the media it seems Fernando has been pushing the team to levels of performance that Sebastian didn’t.

      Bear in mind that the AMR23 wasn’t developed in the short number of weeks between the end of last season and this testing session.
      Then consider who was feeding the driver data that went into the AMR23. I would suggest there is more feedback time from Seb than Fernando.

      1. And generally speaking, cars seem to become better with vettel than with alonso.

  8. Sounds like Aston’s covering all bases in case Drugovich is a bust. Can’t really blame Aston for doing that since they seem to have Top 4 ambitions, though I doubt Seb would actually come back.

    It makes me wonder what Vandoorne’s standing is within AM. Surely he should be the next option after Stroll and Drugovich…

  9. It would be entertaining for sure, but opportunities like this should go to new drivers to give them a shot at showing what they can do.

  10. Would be a great one off.
    Seb gets his 300 starts and we get a great story.

  11. Alonso and Vettel as teammates is practically a dream team, but feels like a long shot.

  12. Recalling how much Alonso rubbished Vettel over his R-B and Ferrari years, this would be a tasty match-up.

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