It was shocking and at the same time, it wasn’t. Racing Point has announced that they’ll be dropping Sergio Perez at the end of the 2020 season. Soon after, Sebastian Vettel confirmed he’ll be filling that seat in 2021 when Racing Point will become an Aston Martin work’s team. Once Ferrari confirmed Vettel’s departure before the start of this COVID-affected season, there were many speculations as to where the four-time world champion could go. However, the obvious options of Red Bull and Renault were soon confirmed to be shut doors for Sebastian. While we’d love to see him drive the overpowered Mercedes silver arrow, that transfer was always an improbable one. It wasn’t long until we heard rumours of Lawrence Stroll looking to hire the experienced winner for his 2021 lineup in what will become the Aston Martin F1 team. Considering the team had only recently signed a 3-year extension with Perez and their other driver was the son of the team owner, we knew who was most at risk. After a strong performance in 2020 and a second podium from Lance, it seems the Mexican racer had to be sacrificed for us to enjoy Vettel’s continued presence on the grid.
On paper, Vettel is a definite upgrade over Perez and Stroll was unlikely to lose his seat in this situation. However, the continued poor performance from the German driver over the last couple of seasons aren’t the most promising signs. Even if we take into account the poor tools at his disposal, Seb has made far too many unforced errors under pressure. However, maybe this change of scenery to a customer team is exactly what Vettel needs to find his mojo again. At the same time, it’s sad to see Sergio having to leave under these circumstances considering his 7-year stint with the team, helping them get finish fourth in the constructor’s championship two seasons in a row and even saving the team’s future in some respects. Checo has been a consistently reliable driver with occasional podium finishes and a special talent for tyre management in race trim. Any team on the grid would be lucky to have him.
Here’s Perez’s official announcement on Twitter:
Meanwhile, the official statement confirming Seb’s signing for 2021 had this from the German driver:
“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future. 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 Lawrence [Stroll] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together. 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.”Sebastian Vettel
“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future. 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 Lawrence [Stroll] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together. 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.”
While this team switch will likely give Vettel a better season in 2021 than it would have at Ferrari, we hope Perez is able to secure another F1 seat too. In an ideal world, I’d love to see Checo and Hulk racing together again, leading the middle-order and chasing podiums.
There’s been more F1 news too since Sunday that we haven’t yet touched upon at Auto Loons and at the top of my list is that Alpine is going to enter F1 in 2021. To be precise, Renault’s F1 team will BECOME the Alpine F1 team next year. The Alpine brand has long been Renault’s sportier arm with a rich history in motorsports, especially in rallying. As a result, we won’t be seeing the usual yellow-black cars darting around on track and instead be treated to a bit of French patriotism as the Alpine F1 team is likely to feature a red, white and Alpine Blue colour theme. This team’s lineup is confirmed for 2021 with its own former world champion as Fernando Alonso will race alongside Esteban Ocon.
Speaking of new looks, Ferrari will have their own for the next race. After all, it is hyped as Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix and it is being held at Mugello which is even more of a home to the prancing horse than Monza. The new livery is a dark, Burgundy shade of red and harks back to the 125 S which is said to be the first racing car to adorn Ferrari’s name. As a Scud man myself, I have to admit, this Burgundy colour looks as pretty as a winning car in the usual Maranello red. Both drivers will be wearing special racing suits that match the livery to mark the occasion. Seb might well be leaving Ferrari on poor terms and without a world title, but this is an irreplicable occasion that I’m sure he’ll cherish.
With that, we’re all caught up for now. Share your thoughts in the comments below and subscribe to the Auto Loons blog for more updates.