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Is Sebastian Vettel´s future in F1 at risk?

Written by María Fernanda Peña, edited by Tanishka Vashee

Since last year, Sebastian Vettel´s future in Formula 1 has been in doubt by many, but this might actually happen sooner than we expected. For many Formula 1 fans, Sebastian retiring is their worst nightmare come true, especially after all the hype that Seb might be able to fight for a 5th world championship in the Aston Martin. But given the disappointing results in both the pre-season testing in Bahrain and in the Bahrain GP, this might be the last season we see Sebastian on track.

Ever since Seb left Ferrari, he has been more open about his future in the sport and his retirement. After last year´s unsuccessful first season at Aston Martin, he stated various times that he would have to see a better car performance to agree to renew his contract when it expired at the end of the 2022 season. But, given the circumstances in which the team are currently in; finishing in p17 for Nico Hülkenberg (given that Sebastian tested positive to COVID-19) and p12 for Lance Stroll, the situation could get complicated for Seb.

The information we have until now, isn´t promising at all; they ended last in Bahrain (the other 3 drivers below having DNF´d) and were lapped having both a time of +45 s from the race leader Charles Leclerc. Additionally, the Aston Martin power unit is from Mercedes which has proven in this first weekend that it isn't as powerful as the Ferrari or Red Bull one, and who may even have reliability issues in the future.

Of course, the team hopes that they can step up their game in the coming races. Their newly appointed team principal Mike Krack stated in an interview with that “ It was a surprise, a negative one unfortunately.” but says the team will keep working to upgrade the car. If they can build a more competitive car for the next races, in the sense that it can at least compete with Haas (3rd in the constructors), Alfa Romeo (4th) and Alpine (5th) it´ll be easier to persuade Seb to sign a new contract. Additionally, both Ralph Schumacher and Gerhard Berger have been open about their concern with the team's success.

The problem is that we have a lot of expectations from this team because of how much is said that Lawrence Stroll is investing in it, but really he could be investing millions and still not have a competitive car because he doesn't have the right team. To quote Ralph Schumacher: “You can’t just take a lot of people and a lot of money, put them in a pot, stir them briefly and then hope something good comes out of it in Formula 1.” Maybe that is the problem for Aston Martin, they need better people or at least maintain a solid structure of employees that can execute both in the short and long term to show Sebastian they have a solid plan. Because as we´ve seen, the change from Otmar Szafnauer to Mike Krack was very abrupt, especially considering the long term vision Otmar had for the team.

It is unpredictable what will happen with Seb this season, but it very much relies on the performance of the car. Yet, it is inevitable that we have in mind this might be his last season after 15 previous ones, 53 wins, 122 podiums, 57 pole positions and 4 driver championships. But even if Seb retires, he has left a big mark in F1 and its community and hopefully he´ll be able to contribute in another way to racing (maybe through the FIA). Still, nothing's for sure and it is a matter of time till we know if this will be a reality or not; maybe Aston Martin might be able to improve and we´ve been wrong all along.

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