Kurt Verlin
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Sebastian Vettel to Race in F1 in 2021

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Sebastian Vettel at 2019 Japanese GP
Photo: Takayuki Suzuki via CC

Just before Ferrari’s 1000th grand prix in in Formula 1, Sebastian Vettel announced he will be driving for Aston Martin Racing in 2021.

Earlier this year, Ferrari had rather rudely pushed Vettel aside, only letting the four-time champion know a day before signing Carlos Sainz that he would not get an offer to race for them again. In light of this, the timing of Vettel’s announcement seems no accident.

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Vettel is so far the only confirmed driver for the new Aston Martin Racing team, though to call it “new” is perhaps not accurate. The team already exists as Racing Point, which was not long ago known as Force India — rebranding seems to be in the organization’s DNA.

Aston Martin is currently the main sponsor of the Honda-powered Red Bull Racing team, though that sponsorship will end in 2021. In 2019, Alfa Romeo simply slapped its name on an otherwise unchanged Sauber team; at this stage, it’s hard to gauge whether Aston Martin is doing the same thing or aiming a little higher.

The key differentiator is no doubt Lawrence Stroll — billionaire and father of F1 driver Lance Stroll. In January, a consortium led by Stroll invested £182 million to take a 16.7 percent stake in the British automaker. This took place 18 months after the same consortium had taken over the financially struggling Force India team, leading to its becoming Racing Point. Stroll will also become Aston Martin’s executive chairman ahead of the 2021 F1 season.

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Stroll’s son Lance, who started in F1 at Williams, moved to Racing Point at the same time. While it hasn’t been confirmed, it seems likely he will end up at Aston Martin Racing alongside Vettel, one of the sport’s most decorated drivers and now also one of its most experienced — a great benchmark for the young Stroll.

Following the announcement that Vettel would not race for Ferrari in 2021, there were many questions about his future. Would any team take him? Would he race for any team? All the top seats, it seemed, were claimed. Aston Martin Racing, however, was and remains something of an unknown. Ultimately, it could just be Racing Point dressed in British racing green. But with a four-time champion in their car, they could be setting themselves up for success.