We’ve almost got a full 2022 grid, with news Sebastian Vettel has opted to extend his stay in Formula 1 for at least another year by continuing with Aston Martin, while it was confirmed Lance Stroll will stay on in green too. F1.com’s Senior Writer Lawrence Barretto looks at the reasons behind that decision…
Vettel relishing second chance with Aston Martin
Vettel is happy with the job he’s currently got, which is why he has put pen to paper to exercise an option that will see him continue with Aston Martin for a second successive season.
When the four-time world champion agreed to make the move to the Silverstone-based squad, it was always with the intention that it would be a medium to long-term project.
READ MORE: Vettel and Stroll to remain with Aston Martin for 2022
Having an option at the end of the first year was simply a safety net, which would allow him to head off into the sunset and enjoy retirement if it didn’t work out – both in terms of his own performance or the team’s speed.
But he’s seen enough from this year to realise that Aston Martin, who recently broke ground on what will be a state-of-the-art facility that’ll include its own wind tunnel when finished, are a team going in the right direction.
He loves turning up to work. With a young family at home, that factor is hugely important. He’s been welcomed with open arms and the mechanics and engineers love him.
When he mentioned on team radio in Monaco that one of his eyes felt like it was bleeding, his mechanics had an eye-patch waiting for him as a joke. Similarly, when a lot of the team weren’t sleeping properly in Austria, Vettel – who has long given mementos and gifts to his colleagues – gave them all cushions with his face on them. It’s a relationship that is bearing fruit – and has aided his transition into the team.
LONG READ: The lesser known Sebastian Vettel – getting to know the man who snubs social media
Aston Martin are getting what they need from Vettel
After a slow start, where he completed the least laps of any race driver in pre-season testing, Vettel has started to find his groove. There have still been some strange mistakes – but there have also been plenty of highs, including the podium in Baku and what should have been a podium in Hungary. Had he kept the latter, the German would have been inside the top 10 in the drivers’ standings.
There were some details to iron out, which is why it look slightly longer than anticipated to get the deal signed paving the way for the announcement, but it was never likely that he was going to leave.
And Aston Martin will be pleased, as they will continue to run a world champion who retains the hunger to deliver, who will be incredibly useful with the development of next year’s brand-new cars, and who is acting as a great mentor to his younger team mate Stroll.
Should Vettel continue to show signs of getting back to his best next year, Aston Martin can choose to retain him for 2023. Or they can look elsewhere, with plenty of contracts up for renewal. Should they deliver next year, it could become a very attractive seat. The pressure, then, is on Vettel to deliver if he wants to stay on and enjoy the benefit of his efforts in helping to build this team into a frontrunner.
READ MORE: Aston Martin start work on new F1 factory and wind tunnel campus at Silverstone base
Stroll given the opportunity to flourish
There is no doubt that Lawrence Stroll believes his son has what it takes to become Formula 1 world champion – and he’s doing everything in his power, as you’d expect from any father, to try and make that happen.
Bringing in Vettel was a smart move, as it gives Stroll an opportunity to learn from one of the best – and there have been signs this year that he’s doing just that.
His seventh-place drive last time out in Italy was his best of the season. He just needs to add more consistency – and wrestle back the momentum that he had over Vettel early in the year – but it is hoped internally that that will come with time.
He’s shown that he has the potential to succeed in F1 – he took pole in Turkey last year and came close to winning. He was in with a shot at victory at Monza last year, too. And he’s only 22, which means he could feasibly be around for the next two decades if he wants to be.
READ MORE: Vettel laments Lap 1 woes at Monza while Stroll says he achieved the ‘maximum’ with P7
His father has set a target of Aston Martin competing for championships within three to five years. That gives Stroll more time to improve his performances, particularly in qualifying, and refine his racecraft.
The more he can put himself in a position to fight in the top 10, the more he’ll be in a better position to take opportunities when he has a car capable of challenging for silverware on a regular basis.