Formula One needed Sebastian Vettel to stay and Racing Point, who become Aston Martin F1 next season, made a smart move in signing him, according to six times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 35-year-old Briton said at the Tuscan Grand Prix on Thursday that Vettel’s move from Ferrari to the Silverstone-based team, announced earlier, was exciting for the sport.
“It’s quite a big shift from Ferrari to an up-and-coming team,” Hamilton told Sky Sports television at the Mugello circuit.
“But I think Formula One really needs to keep the great driver that he is in the sport so I’m really happy that he’s continuing and not stopping.
“I’m just really happy for him because it’s not been the easiest of journeys at Ferrari, and I think he’ll learn so much from there.”
Racing Point have said four times world champion Vettel will drive for them in 2021 and beyond, replacing Mexican Sergio Perez.
Vettel, 33, told reporters he had come close to retiring before signing the deal.
His staying means the sport will have three multiple world champions still racing, with Spain’s double champion Fernando Alonso returning after two seasons out to drive for Renault, who will be renamed Alpine F1.
“I think it’s one of the smartest moves that Aston Martin could do and I’m excited to see what he contributes and how he helps progress that team forward,” said Hamilton.
The Briton, who leads team mate Valtteri Bottas in the championship by 47 points after eight races, said experience counted for a lot.
Vettel says he came close to retirement before Aston deal
Sebastian Vettel said he had come close to retiring before Racing Point offered him a chance to continue in Formula One next season.
Asked on Thursday ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit how close he was to walking away, the four-times world champion replied: “Close”.
“Is there a measure of how close you can get? 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, what’s best for me,” Vettel told reporters in a video conference.
“What I’ve decided now I believe is the best for me, and I’m looking forward to proving that.”
Vettel was told by Ferrari in May, after the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed the start of the season, that they would not be extending his contract beyond this year.
In July the 33-year-old German recognised he could leave Formula One for good.
Racing Point, to be renamed Aston Martin F1 next season, were his best option. They are currently fourth with a car based on last year’s title-winning Mercedes, while Ferrari are sixth.
“The second key factor for me has been answering to myself the question of what I want to do and get out of myself in a potential future in Formula One,” he said.
Vettel would not reveal details of his contract or the duration, although Racing Point have said it is for 2021 and beyond.
“I’m looking forward to the change because I believe we can do well,” he said.
“I believe the team has huge potential. There’s some really good, clever people on board and I’m looking forward to help and show those qualities are there and demonstrate that as well with results.
Vettel has struggled at Ferrari since young Monegasque Charles Leclerc arrived, making basic errors and looking uncomfortable in the car.
He said joining Racing Point/Aston Martin, where his team mate Lance Stroll is the son of billionaire Canadian owner Lawrence, just seemed the right thing to do.
“It feels good that the news is out…a lot of questions will probably stop now.”
Motor racing: Hamilton’s supercars running short of drive time
Six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has a collection of supercars worth millions of dollars but he no longer drives any of them.
The Mercedes driver, announced this week as the new owner of a team in the electric off-road Extreme E series starting up next year, told reporters he was doing his best to be environmentally friendly.
“It’s difficult because there are people (who say) like ‘yeah, but you race a Formula One car around every weekend’,” the 35-year-old Briton said on Thursday at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit.
“Some of it’s education because not everyone knows the footprint that our sport currently has and what we’re doing in terms of trying to improve that. But I’m making a lot of changes in my personal life.
“I don’t drive any of the cars that I own any more. I only drive my (electric Mercedes) EQC.”
Formula One issued a sustainability plan last year with the aim of achieving a net zero-carbon footprint for the sport by 2030. It has also promised that all Formula One events would be sustainable by 2025.
Hamilton, a vegan, said he also drove a Smart car and requested to be collected from airports in electric vehicles. He has sold his private jet.
According to media reports, he owns a Ferrari LaFerrari, Pagani Zonda, McLaren P1 and 1960s Shelby Cobra among other cars.
The championship leader said he was impressed by Extreme E’s aims and goals, with each team crew having a mandatory female driver.
The races will be held in some of the most remote and harsh environments including the Brazilian rain forest, Greenland, Saudi Arabian deserts and mountains of Nepal to highlight global warming.
There will be no spectators but races will be broadcast on TV and social media, with cars transported around the world on a boat that doubles as a floating paddock.