Sebastian Vettel’s future at Aston Martin has resurfaced amid speculation that he may retire at the end of the season.
Vettel joined Aston Martin at the end of 2020 after winning four championships with Red Bull and winning 53 races with a combination of the Milton Keynes team and Ferrari.
The 34-year old scored seven points finishes last year on his way to 12th in the Drivers’ Standings, one position and nine points ahead of teammate Lance Stroll.
The Silverstone-based squad had a disappointing year after almost finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship the year before under the Racing Point banner, only to finish seventh when the British motoring brand returned last season.
So far in 2022, they have failed to score points in any of the first three races due to an erratic car that “frightened” Lance during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and their woes were compounded by Vettel missing the first two races due to COVID-19, though it must be noted that Nico Hulkenberg did an excellent job filling in under the circumstances.
Both drivers finished in the top 10 in Imola considering the damp conditions, but their form is still a shadow of what it was in their Force India and Racing Point days, raising worries about Lawrence’s five-year championship ambition.
Vettel stated before the season that if the car does not provide him with adequate results, he may decide to retire at the end of the year.
“We want to progress and win,” Vettel said. “So, ultimately, having had the path that I have had so far, I’m mostly interested in winning and that will determine what the future brings.”
He has since clarified that he would like to stay and assist the Silverstone team recover from a bad start to the season.
“We will choose the path we climb which will determine the next three to four years, so that’s why I feel it’s really important to focus on that and it takes all the attention,” he explained.
“Those will be the key things I will be looking at to see how promising it is looking in the future and how soon, because obviously I’m not really old.”
“I think I would have physically a lot of years left, it’s not a problem at all.”
The German emphasised that he and his team have a lot of work ahead of them to win the championship, and that their new auxiliary factory in Silverstone may be able to entice him back in, indicating that he is in it for the long haul.
“That’s ultimately the goal – to win and fight for podiums and victories, [from] which currently we are far away,” added Vettel.
“But there is plenty of work, so that’s also very exciting – to know where we are now and to take the little steps and define the path for the future.”
Alonso’s performance has been far superior to his results. After scoring two points in Bahrain, a reliability fault forced him to retire in Jeddah, before an oil seal failed in qualifying in Melbourne, depriving the Spaniard pole position despite being faster in both of the opening two sectors than eventual polesitter Charles Leclerc.
The two-time world champion appeared to be on track for a strong finish – perhaps even a podium – but an early Safety Car left him in a strategic bind, as he still had too much time remaining in the race to make Mediums or Softs finish after starting on Hards.
Contact with Mick Schumacher in Imola ended his race in round four, but he could have finished in the top seven instead of 15th, one position behind Vettel. Although Alonso’s contract expires this year, he has stated that he intends to continue racing.
“As I said at the beginning of the year, I still feel competitive and fast and feel that I am enjoying time in Formula 1,” he said. “So, I will race, I guess, a couple more years… two or three more years.”
As a result, according to F1-Insider, Aston Martin may be tempted to pick the 32-time race winner to replace Vettel if the German leaves, but team principal Mike Krack insists that his team would be “foolish” if they did not try to persuade him to stay.
The ambitious project at Silverstone, along with Vettel’s own desire to stay, could be all the motivation he requires.