Sebastian Vettel nearly quit F1, explains Aston Martin 2021 move
The Aston Martin-bound driver on how close he came to walking away from the sport and why he is "very, very excited" by his new team's prospects after move was finally confirmed
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 11/09/20 12:51pm
Sebastian Vettel has admitted he came "close" to quitting Formula 1 before signing for the renamed Aston Martin squad for 2021, with the German convinced there is "more to come from that team than people have seen so far".
Vettel, the four-time champion and 53-time race winner, ended four months of speculation about his F1 future by signing for the current Racing Point team in a multi-year deal ahead of their big rebrand as Aston Martin for next season.
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But having made clear before then that all options were on the table as he considered his next move after being let go by Ferrari, Vettel confirmed he had seriously contemplated walking away from F1.
"I don't know, is there a measure of how close you can get? It was close," he said in Thursday's news conference at the Tuscan GP.
"In terms of having a lot of thoughts and deciding - ultimately I have to put myself first in that regard - what's the best for me. What I have decided now I believe it's the best for me and looking forward to proving that."
So why Aston Martin & can he win with them? Vettel explains...
Racing Point have made big strides up the field this year with a car based on that of last year's title-winning Mercedes, their engine suppliers.
But the team have still claimed only one podium so far, at last week's unpredictable Italian GP, while the outfit based at Silverstone last won a race when they were known as Jordan in 2003.
"It's not been an easy decision," explained Vettel to Sky Sports F1.
"There have been two main factors. One has obviously been believing in the team's ability to do well. I think part of that is already proven by the track results, the track record this year. But I believe there is more to come.
"The second big one was what I want to do with my future. Whether it might be time to stop, time to do something else, or time to keep going.
"I've made my decision, obviously everyone knows, but I think I have more to give and I'm looking forward to the task with a new environment, new team, new spirit. Some of the people I've known for a long time, and looking forward to joining and together hopefully we could do good things."
Although he had not ruled anything out, Vettel had made it abundantly clear that should he stay in F1 then it would only be because he felt he could achieve more tangible success with his next team.
"I'm not here to just participate, not here to 'be a Formula 1 driver', not here to make money… I'm really here to achieve something," he told Sky F1 at the Hungarian GP in August.
Asked at Mugello on Thursday to what extent Aston Martin could therefore help him achieve more title and race wins, Vettel replied: "I think you have to be honest and realistic. If you want to win the championship next year you need to be in a Mercedes. Now obviously there's two seats and I believe those two seats are taken.
"What is it [about Aston Martin]? It's mostly the team. The people behind [it], the spirit, and the potential.
"There's a lot more to come from that team than people have seen so far and what we have all seen in the past, for various reasons.
"One - and probably the biggest one - is that financially they were always disadvantaged with not having the amount of money that other people were able to spend.
"Now the rules are coming their way and I think the situation is coming their way. So it's a team that is growing and, obviously, with the relaunch of Aston Martin in Formula 1 it's a great step and it's certainly very, very exciting to be part of that."
F1 is introducing a budget cap on performance spending for the first time next season, when the newly-agreed Concorde Agreement designed to level the financial playing field also comes into play. Then, in 2022, the sport's design rules are being overhauled in a further attempt to try and close-up the field.