Sebastian Vettel is in talks with the soon-to-be Aston Martin Formula 1 team about a seat next year, according to a report from his native Germany.
Vettel will depart Scuderia Ferrari at the end of 2020 and is fast running out of options to stay in the championship after Renault signed Fernando Alonso and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner declared the prospect of a return “a definite ‘no’”.
Otmar Szafnauer, boss of the Racing Point squad which will become Aston Martin in 2021, had already suggested disinterest in the four-time world champion and appeared to pour cold water on the idea again at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
“It’s flattering that everyone this that a four-time world champion would come to our team, but maybe that’s because the car is a bit quicker now,” he said at the Red Bull Ring.
“You’re absolutely right, we have long contracts with both our drivers, so it would only be logical that we don’t have space.”
However, Bild reports that Vettel will soon sign with Aston Martin, having correctly predicted his exit from Ferrari in May.
Such a move would put the 33-year-old in a Mercedes-powered car, fielded by a team which has had a promising start to the current season, controversy about its similarities to the factory Mercedes notwithstanding.
His arrival at Aston Martin would likely displace Sergio Perez given Lance Stroll is the son of a team owner in Lawrence Stroll, according to Horner.
“I don’t think Lance is going to get fired,” he quipped when asked during Sky Sports F1’s telecast if he could envisage either of Perez or Stroll losing their seat to Vettel.
“Of course, drivers’ contracts between the teams, you never know what’s within them, it’s only the contract recognition board which has full sight of them, so yes, I’m sure that perhaps they have options or break points or whatever, but that’s really none of our business.”
The Mercedes-AMG Formula One Team itself has not yet confirmed Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas beyond the end of the present season but has indicated that it is seeking to retain both.