Vettel's F1 future depends on Aston's response to 2022 challenges

Sebastian Vettel says his Formula 1 future with Aston Martin hinges on how he and it respond to “the mountain ahead of us” in trying to improve the AMR22 car.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

In 2022, Vettel has started the second of his initial two-year deal to join Aston after he was dropped from Ferrari, but the opening phase of the season has been difficult for both elements at the green team.

Vettel missed the opening two rounds after contracting COVID-19, while Aston’s AMR22 has lacked pace compared to its rivals – with Aston the only car yet to score points so far this season.

After returning to action in Australia last time out, Vettel endured a nightmare weekend, as his car had an engine issue in first practice, he crashed in FP3 (as did team-mate Lance Stroll, who also had an enormous qualifying accident with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi), then went off early in the race before crashing again and retiring with damage – having also been fined for pitlane speeding during his brief qualifying appearance where he was eliminated in Q1.

Speaking about his future in the pre-FP1 press conference for this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Vettel acknowledged that it was a “no brainer” he will soon have to decide on the next phase of his life – if he tries to get a new Aston contract, seeks a move elsewhere in F1 or motorsport, or retires from racing, although he is adamant “I definitely won’t sit on the other side in terms of asking questions to drivers”.

When pressed on his thoughts about his long-term F1 future, Vettel replied: “I don’t know. No secrets – it will depend on obviously how this year goes and then take it from there.”

He later added: “Time will tell. At the minute, I think the focus is on the now and on the mountain ahead of us that we try to climb and we won’t climb it in a day, we won’t climb it in a month.

“But [we] will choose the path that we climb, which will determine the next three-four years – so that’s why I feel it’s really important to focus on that and it takes all the attention.

“And then one day there will be a day for all of us where this journey ends and some other journey will start – whatever that might be.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Vettel also said it would be “absolutely wrong” to “write this season off” despite Aston’s tough start to 2022, adding that “the spirit is good – the team is very willing to be at the front”.

He continued: “At the minute we are not, it’s not a secret. But lots of work going in.”

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When asked by Autosport exactly he wanted when considering his future in the coming period, Vettel alluded to the need to be in victory and title contention to stay in F1, but also suggested other factors at Aston – likely exactly how the team responds to the challenge of turning around its car and seeing the investment of Aston’s new factory pay off – might play a part in his decision.

“In all honesty,” he said, “I had an amazing 15 years or so looking back – and I was in a position to win championships, win a lot of races, fight for pole positions, get a lot of podiums.

“And obviously the taste was great. It’s not a secret if you’re not in a position to be there that it’s a different taste. You need to find a different sort of motivation.

“But ultimately, I’m willing to be tasting the same again – that’s the nature of the sport.

“For some of the guys in the room [Zhou Guanyu, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon] it’s a little bit different because they’re very early in their careers and they didn’t have a team or car yet where they were able to show yet what they can do.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“So, it’s clearly a different position, but that is one of the big deciders.

“But the team is growing, there’s a lot of things, it looks very promising. The answer is ‘time will tell’.

“Those will be the key things that I will be looking at to see how promising it is looking in the future and how soon because obviously I’m not really old – I think I would have physically a lot of years left, it’s not a problem at all.

“That’s ultimately the goal – to win and fight for podiums and victories, which currently we’re far away [from].

“But there’s plenty of work, so that’s also very exciting – to know where we are now and to take the little steps and define the path for the future.”

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