Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will remain in Formula One after signing a deal with the Racing Point team, which will rebrand itself as Aston Martin from next season.
There had been some doubt as to whether the German would continue in F1 after Ferrari announced in May that McLaren’s Carlos Sainz would be taking his seat.
However, Sergio Perez announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving Racing Point at the end of the current season, despite having a deal until 2022, opening up a space on the grid.
“I’m extremely proud to say that I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021,” Vettel said in a statement. “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, Racing Point part-owner] to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together.
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“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.”
Vettel won four consecutive world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, but his driving has been plagued by errors in recent times. In 2018, several mistakes in the second half of the season saw Vettel squander the championship lead and Ferrari’s chance of a first world title since 2007.
The 33-year-old was signed by Ferrari with the aim of ending that championship drought, but the emergence of exciting young driver Charles Leclerc eventually meant Vettel was no longer considered the number one driver.
Vettel is 13th in the drivers’ standings, having recorded just 16 points so far this season, and sits 29 points behind teammate Leclerc.
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However, in terms of victories, Vettel is the third most successful in the sport’s history, behind only Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton,
Racing Point said the Vettel deal “is a clear statement of the team’s ambition to establish itself as one of the most competitive names in the sport.”
“Everybody at Silverstone is hugely excited by this news,” Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer said in a statement. “Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 Team.
“On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Sebastian is one of the best in the world, and I can’t think of a better driver to help take us into this new era. He will play a significant role in taking this team to the next level.”