After an action packed start to the 2020 Formula One season with some real surprises, our managing editor believes Racing Point should poach Vettel as soon as possible. He explains why…
Formula One may have started the 2020 season a few months later than scheduled but that does not mean there has been a lack of drama. Racing action aside (read our reviews at this link) there has been enough going on in the current F1 drivers’ market to fill a newspaper.
A sad parting
The snowball started rolling when Ferrari announced that it would be parting ways with long-time title hopeful Sebastian Vettel. Vettel claimed all four of his titles with Red Bull Racing (RBR) and was eager to add to that tally at the Scuderia. Perhaps he wanted to emulate the feats of his countryman and one-time hero, Michael Schumacher, but fortune has not favoured this Italo-Saxo combination. However, after several seasons of being the team’s lead driver with neither (constructor’s nor driver’s) title to show for it, the Red team will not be renewing his contract for 2021.
Vettel’s sudden ejection set in motion a chain reaction of driver movements even before the first race had started. Ferrari hired Carlos Sainz to replace the German alongside Charles Leclerc, the latter viewed as the team’s future star. Sainz’s departure from McLaren opened the door for Daniel Ricciardo to move from Renault. In a surprise move, double champ Fernando Alonso returns in 2021 to the outfit that helped deliver him both his titles. When the music stopped playing, it is only Vettel that is left without a seat for 2021… or is he?
Recent ramblings around the F1 paddock has the German talking to Racing Point about a drive for 2021. The team already has long-term contracts in place with both of its drivers, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, but contracts have often been broken/bought out in F1. Racing Point is owned by billionaire Lawrence Stroll. The Canadian is a smart businessman who has amassed a fortune that has enabled him to buy a team for his son to drive for. But does Stroll senior have the ruthlessness to compete at the very top-end of the sport?
Racing Point made headlines in pre-season testing as the car showed a sudden turn of speed that no one quite expected. There are many suspicions that the RP20 was a bit ‘too close’ to the championship winning Mercedes, which has led to a protest from rivals Renault. In race trim the car has proven quick and, more recently, when the pink cars locked out the second row during qualifying for the Hungarian GP, behind only the works Mercedes and ahead of both Ferraris and RBRs.
We think that Stroll Sr should poach Vettel from Ferrari as soon as possible i.e. this year, preferably before the next races at Silverstone. Vettel is clearly unhappy with his current status at Ferrari and has a single point to show from two outings in 2020. In contrast, the Racing Point pilots lie 5th and 10th in the standings, respectively.
If Stroll wants to be a fully-fledged member of the Piranha Club (as christened by Ron Dennis) he needs to show a real edge to win at all costs. Buying an F1 team is one thing, but stealing a quadruple champ from the biggest, longest-standing team in the sport’s history will be a master stroke.
Racing Point finished the 2019 season in 7th position. They are, quite clearly, the second quickest outfit of the 2020 season. Despite their turn of pace, the team only lies fourth in the standings (after two rounds). As capable as Lance Stroll is (he already has a podium under his belt), can you imagine the points haul the team could net with Vettel and Sergio Perez as the driving strength?
Poaching the likes of Vettel could result in third, potentially second in the championship (provided the technical protest doesn’t result in a penalty), with the associated cash windfall that comes with the position (see the video below for more). Lawrence Stroll could be a real giant killer should he pull off such a move. And wouldn’t it just be great to see three teams (Mercedes and RBR the others) fighting for podium positions?