Sebastian Vettel admits he came close to retiring from Formula 1 before signing to race for Aston Martin in 2021.
Ferrari opted against offering Vettel a new contract when his current one expires at the end of this year, instead signing Carlos Sainz as his replacement. With many teams already having their driver plans in place, there were few strong seats available for the four-time world champion, but Racing Point found a way out of its contract with Sergio Perez to offer Vettel a deal for when it becomes Aston Martin next year. The German said it was an opportunity that arrived at a time when he was seriously considering retirement.
“I don’t know if there is a measure of how close you can get,” Vettel said. “It was close in terms of having a lot of thoughts, and deciding what’s ultimately I have to put myself first in that regard and what’s best for me, and what I’ve decided now I believe is the best for me and looking forward to proving that.”
Vettel said it wasn’t a clear-cut decision to remain in F1 given his recent experiences, but he is motivated by the Aston Martin project.
“It felt like the right thing to do obviously, have spent the last weeks and months thinking a lot about my future, and what is the best thing for me to do,” he said.
“It has been a bit short notice in terms of the announcement as well, but it feels good that the news is out, it is clear first of all to myself and to the rest what is happening, and a lot of questions will probably stop now. I’ll probably have to go through this phase, which is no problem, exciting, then get back to my job before focusing on next year.
“It wasn’t an easy call because the last weeks and months have been quite intense; a different and new situation to be in. As I have put out from day one, obviously I felt like I wanted to remain in Formula 1 if there was something that really attracts me. I think it was getting more and more clear the team’s performances this year are encouraging. Even more so is the fact the regulations are going even more to a level playing field, and there will be a lot of firsts – the first time for the team to be in a position to have probably the same money as other teams, (and) show what they’re capable of.
“Anything I can do to help, I’m very excited and looking forward to it. It’s coming at the right time. As I said, in terms of the announcement it’s not been a long time since it was final – Checo made the announcement last night and it was only right to respond straight away.”