Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel had varying thoughts by being at different end of the latest switch as F1 rivals threw in their reactions as well.
While it was always swinging around in the background, the news was finally broken by Perez when he announced leaving Racing Point (and to be Aston Martin) on Wednesday after the 2020 F1 season, which was followed by confirmation on Thursday for Vettel.
The German has a multi-year deal with Aston Martin but is not clear for how many years exactly. Perez had it for three seasons with the Silverstone-based outfit until 2022 but as with the F1 contracts, it can end any time if so the driver of team wants it.
As of now, Perez has no seat but there are availability at Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing. The Mexican stated of no Plan B as he only got the confirmation on Saturday evening from Lawrence Stroll and his statement then pushed Vettel and co to release theirs.
The duo elaborated more on their respective sides in the Thursday press conference at Mugello, where their F1 rivals also shared their opinions, to host of media including Racefans.net, Motorsport Network, AMuS, BBC, Reuters and more.
Here’s what Perez said –
On call from Lawrence Stroll, surprise, initial feedback:
Perez: “Basically I got confirmation yesterday. Nobody told me anything, but I already knew and figured out a couple of things. The final confirmation came yesterday. And it’s fine, seven years with the team. I know everything has a beginning and also an end. We still have nine races to make each other very proud. I got a call from Lawrence, and he told me yesterday that they’re going into another direction.
“As for the recent talks, that was the feedback that I was getting, that everything was looking, that the team wanted to keep me and so on. There were some discussions in the background about contracts and so on that I’m not willing to disclose because I think those things should remain between the team and myself. There were a couple of things in the contract that we went through. In the end, they officially told me yesterday that I’m not continuing. I didn’t expect that. It is how it is.”
Late decision, frustration:
Perez: “I wouldn’t say disappointed in that regard because I understand it. It’s also the negotiations going on. They took probably longer than I thought. Probably a bit more clarity would have helped regarding my future as well, because then I would have looked for a plan B, which probably wouldn’t have changed anything. I’ve been long enough in this business. It’s part of this crazy world called F1.
“I know that I’m leaving a great car. They’re looking also great for next year. I think definitely the team will be stronger next year than this year. In that regard, it hurts a bit more knowing that you’re leaving a good car, but you never know in the future. Things in Formula 1 change so quickly, and let’s see what the future holds for both of us.”
Aston Martin project:
Perez: “There is no secret, I put a lot of effort into this team in a lot of ways. At the same time, the team also back then with Vijay, they gave me a great opportunity to carry on with my career. In the end, it didn’t work out. I think a better opportunity came to the team, to the brand, so there is nothing I can do.
“It’s not a performance-related thing. So as a driver, there is not much I can do. About taking a sabbatical, I think my priority will be to carry on and do at least a two-year contract, to try to be here for 2022, to get ’21 as experience with the team and then making sure that ’22 is a transition. I think once you go out, you may never come back, so I think if I take a sabbatical, I’d rather retire first than take a sabbatical.”
Future plan, Haas or Alfa Romeo or anything else:
Perez: “I think everything is an option right now. My main target is to remain in F1. I feel that I’m still very young and hungry, and I want to carry on in Formula 1. But it has to be the right package. A package that really gives me the maximum motivation to give my 100% every single lap. I think it’s also going to be a long-term project, targeting 2022, because there I expect the rule change to play a major effect.
“That’s the main reason that I want to continue for 2022, because I feel there are plenty of opportunities. I certainly think that 2021 can be a difficult year in that regard, but you never know. There certainly are options out there. I don’t expect to make a decision any time soon. I will take the time that I require. And if I don’t find anything attractive in F1, then I would think about other series, other things, we’ll see.”
Highlights of seven-year journey:
Perez: “I think we’ve been extremely successful, especially in the early days with the… I think… when we look back, so many podiums with cars that were not capable of achieving podiums. But not just the podiums, also the endurance, two-times fourth in the constructors’ championship with the budget that we have, so we were always very good.
“The main highlight for me that I will take forever is obviously saving the team and saving the jobs of so many team members. That is the thing that is the most special for me, and that I will always be very proud of this team. Looking at them, I think they have a great future ahead of them, and I wish them the very best.”
Here’s what Vettel said –
Aston Martin switch, decision:
Vettel: “It was the right thing to do. I was thinking a lot about my future. Obviously it has been a bit short notice But it feels good that the news is out. It is clear to myself and to the others. I am excited about this. I get back to my job before focusing to the next race. It wasn’t an easy call because the last weeks and months have been quite intense for me. It’s different and new situation for me to be in and, as I have put out from day one, I felt like I wanted to remain in Formula 1 if there is something that really attracts.
“It was getting more and more clear the team’s performances this year have been very encouraging and I think even more than that, is where the regulations are going, into hopefully a more and more level playing field. I think it will be a lot of firsts and the first time for the team to be in a position to have probably the same money as other teams and show what they are capable of.
“So anything I can do to help, I am very excited about and I am looking forward to it. Things are coming in the right time and in terms of the announcement, it has not been a long time since it was final. Obviously Checo [Sergio Perez] made the announcement last night and then I think it was only right to respond straightaway.”
Change of environment, contract length, contact with team:
Vettel: “Obviously I am still at Ferrari with a big week end ahead of us. I will do the best job possible for the team. Time will tell. The come back of Aston Martin to racing is very exciting. I have a good feeling as at the moment Racing Point is going in a positive trend and the team’s performances this year obviously are very encouraging.
“We never reveal the length of contracts nor the amount. Mercedes is in a strong position for the next following years but it is a very exciting challenge. I want to race in the front of the grid not at the back. Also, it will be first year with budget cap. The team is in a much better place than in the past.
“There are lots of things that make me confident and I hope we can fight for good results in the future. I did due diligence where the team is and I have known Otmar for more than 10 years. The key factor is what I want to do and what I want to get out of myself. Then the performance side was clear. Once all the things were clear, everything became easy and natural to sign.”
The recent brake issue saga:
Vettel: “Obviously there’s been a lot of talk in the recent weeks about this topic but to be honest this didn’t really play a big role for me because I’m more convinced in the team and the strength of the team. For obvious reasons – not having the money in the recent years to perform on a similar level as the big teams – I think they have done remarkably well. There’s definitely enough guts in that team to prove people wrong. So I think even with all the things you have mentioned I don’t think they will change things much.
“There’s a huge potential for growth and I’m looking forward to join the team and trying to help with everything that I know, all the experience that I have and what I do in the car to try to grow the team as much as possible that we find ourselves in a competitive spot on the grid. Obviously I can’t make any predictions but there’s definitely hope and believe in the team and the people that are there. I think they’re capable and for the first time they equipped with a decent tool set.”
Close to retirement:
Vettel: “Close. I don’t know if there was a measure of how close you can get, but it was close in terms of having a lot of thoughts and deciding ultimately I have to put myself first in that regard, what’s best for me. And what I have decided now I believe that’s best for me and I’m looking forward to prove that.”
Here’s what some of their F1 rivals said –
Lance Stroll (who Perez said cried after the news): I was a little emotional. We’ve been through a lot over the last 18 months. It’s been incredible to work alongside Checo. I’ve really learned a lot from him and this year it’s been a lot of fun and a good car to race together. I think there’s still a long season ahead of us to look forward to, it’s not done yet.
“So that’s exciting, and there’s a good opportunity for the both of us to really score some good points in the next half of the season and try and finish third in the constructors’. That’s the goal. As far as Seb coming to the team, I think it’s a very exciting opportunity for the team. He’s got a tremendous amount of experience and he’s a very successful driver. It’s very exciting.”
Esteban Ocon: “For sure a difficult situation at the moment for Checo. I don’t know how it is from the inside, but from what I know and from when I raced with him, he’s a guy that deserves to have a seat in Formula One. I think he’s been always there. Consistently scoring, helping the team back in in my days and even before then, he was a guy that showed strength and capabilities and awesome speed. So he deserve a seat in Formula One and I hope he will remain in F1.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “He’s certainly worthy of a seat to say the least. As a competitor, I rate him, as a person, I get on with him. Actually, I saw him Sunday, after the race, and I had a bit of an idea that this was going to be announced soon. So yeah, it’s obviously fairly late. Well, it’s not crazy late. I think he’s still got time.
“What are we September? Yeah, he’s still got time. Obviously, there’s fewer seats available. But yeah, I hope for him that he finds a seat. He’s still young. He’s a year younger than me, please. What is he? 30? So yeah, I’m old. He’s young. He is still a baby? So I wish him well, I certainly do. And I hope to see him on the grid in 21.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Honestly, I thought that’s the ideal direction that he was going to go. So I thought it would happen. I was really pleased to hear it because that team has new ownership, has already taken a huge step forwards in its performance, and it can continue to grow. But I personally, and maybe I’m biased, but I believe that experience counts for a huge amount.
“He’s obviously had a difficult time at Ferrari, but he is a four-time world champion and could help steer that team even further in a good-er direction, in terms of car development. I think you should never take that for granted. It’s a great move from the team. On other side, it is of course, sorry for Sergio – he’s a great driver and I’m sure, hopefully, he will have other options.”
Here’s news of Sebastian Vettel signing with Aston Martin
Here’s the news from Sergio Perez
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