Racing Point - why swap Perez for Vettel?
Vettel joins Aston Martin for 2021 - but why did they sign him?
Today, it was announced that four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel will be joining Aston Martin (currently Racing Point) for the 2021 Season and beyond. This follows the news that Sergio Perez is leaving the team at the end of the season, despite his three year contract with the team having not run its full course yet. Check out that story here:
Whilst the news comes as a bit of a shock, it isn't completely surprising - and Vettel replacing Perez is as shocking as Hamilton consistently winning races this season. But why did Racing Point - who will re-brand as Aston Martin for next year - decide to sacrifice Perez in exchange for Vettel? Let's take a look.
For those of you who don't know, Racing Point used to be a team called Force India. To cut a long story short, the team was not doing very well financially in 2018 and the only way to save the team - and the jobs of everyone working for it - was to put Force India into administration. Lawrence Stroll and a consortium of investors bought the assets of the team, re-branded it and have been rebuilding the team into a competitive one since then. For more details on the history of the team, please read the article below.
The point with the above is that were it not for Perez starting the process of putting the team into administration, the team may not exist today on the F1 grid in any form. Perez didn't have to do this, he could have stepped away from the team and found a seat somewhere else - he's a talented and experienced F1 driver so I'm sure he would have had offers. But Perez decided to trigger the administration process and stick with the team. In doing so, he saved 400 jobs and prevented the team from going bankrupt using his own money. Someone create an appreciation post already. Furthermore, Perez then went and signed a five year contract with the team so that he could help develop it into a Championship winning team. The time and dedication he has put into it is not something anyone would expect but it just shows what a stand up guy he is.
This is why his shock departure announcement leaves many with a bad taste in their mouths. Perez has put everything into that team and after all the struggles both he and they went through, it looked like things were finally going his way - especially with the lengthy contract. So to suddenly decide to get rid of him feels a bit like a Julius Caesar homage to me.
Driving for Ferrari, Vettel hasn't been himself since about midway through the 2018 season when he crashed out at his home Grand Prix. He finished fifth overall in the 2019 season, behind Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc. Vettel has had a torrid season so far this year (Ferrari in general have to be fair) due to their truly awful car. As a result, Vettel currently sits down in thirteenth place. But with the same car, his teammate Charles Leclerc is in seventh place with over double the number of points Vettel has.
All season long (and last year for that matter), Vettel has been making rookie mistakes, e.g. crashing with Verstappen in Silverstone, crashing with Leclerc in Brazil, crashing into Sainz in Austria, etc. Now there's no denying that Vettel was a great driver in his day but in Formula 1, you're only as good as you're last race and Vettel simply isn't cutting the mustard at the moment. Ferrari fired him earlier in the year and replaced him with Carlos Sainz Jr for a reason.
Now, don't get me wrong, I like Vettel and he's grown on me much more with his time at Ferrari but if we based things off current performance, I don't think I'd make the call Racing Point just have with replacing Perez with him.
Lance started off his F1 career with Williams at the age of eighteen and now that he's in his fourth season of F1, his best result was a third place finish in Baku back in his debut season in 2017. And if anyone can remember that race, it was a wild one where a lot was happening and many drivers were out of position. Damn entertaining but not your typical F1 race. His most recent podium - a third place finish at Monza - came under similar circumstances, with Gasly winning the race and Sainz in a close second.
Now, Stroll has obtained more points so far this season than Perez - but we musn't forget that a big part of that is because Perez missed both the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix because he had Covid-19 at the time. Lance is still quite young and has a long racing career ahead of him. Racing Point could have kept him as their reserve driver and let him develop his racing skills in other categories too to make him a better rounded driver when he does make his re-entry into the sport. But Lance leaving the team was never going to happen as long as his Dad owned the team - which to me, doesn't seem fair at all.
For the team, Perez was apparently not doing a good enough job for them to retain him over Vettel. And Vettel's recent performance doesn't seem to matter to them much (a little hypocritical but there we are) because the publicity alone the team will get from signing a four-time World Champion to their re-branded team is already worth it for them. Stroll was always safe and as long as his father has a stake in the team he drives for, he always will be.
So this is now the situation we are in - Vettel and Stroll will race for Aston Martin in 2021 whilst Perez currently doesn't have a future in Formula 1.
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