Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has issued a bittersweet response to his former team Aston Martin’s success in the first half of the 2023 season. Vettel, 36, retired from F1 at the end of last campaign following two difficult seasons as a midrunner at Aston Martin, recording back-to-back 12th-placed championship finishes.
Following the German’s retirement, Aston Martin replaced Vettel with another former F1 world champion, Fernando Alonso. And they also gave the Spaniard, who struggled at Alpine, a car that could compete with frontrunners Red Bull, and Mercedes, in the early stages of the season.
Alonso finished third in the first three races and also made the podium in Miami, Monaco, and Canada. He has also found himself in the points in each of the 12 races so far this season, and is one of three to achieve that feat, alongside championship leader Max Verstappen, and longtime rival, Lewis Hamilton. He sits third in the driver championship, as does Aston Martin in the constructors.
Vettel has now admitted that his departure from F1 would’ve been made easier if Aston Martin’s car was still “total garbage”. He told the Red Bulletin: “The first reaction of many people was: The fact that the Aston Martin is so fast this season must frustrate you? Okay, maybe it would be easier if the car was total garbage, in the sense of: I’m not missing anything anyway.”
Vettel says he’s happy for the team, though, and his old rival Alonso. Vettel is also pleased to see Red Bull dominating – the team where he won four consecutive world championships. “No, I’m primarily happy for the team,” Vettel added. “And I’m happy for Fernando Alonso. For many years he had no car in which he could show his driving skills.
“Now he can and is up there. Red Bull Racing dominates, and I still have a lot of friends and acquaintances there. I’m really happy when they win.”
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F1 returns a week from Friday with Zandvoort hosting the race action. Verstappen will be hoping to win in front of his home crowd while also matching one of Vettel’s F1 records: the most consecutive driver wins (9). Should the Dutchman match the record, he can then break it at the home of Ferrari, Monza. That would see both the team’s consecutive wins record and the drivers’ broken in a single season, sealing the most dominant F1 season of all time.
In an interview for Servus TV, Vettel said of Verstappen: “Those one or two actions or just the things he manages to do with the car that just makes you think: ‘Wow. Now I don’t know if I could do that.’ Then there are maneuvers, especially in terms of overtaking or under certain track conditions where you sit in your car afterwards and think: ‘Wow, I don’t know’.
“He just has an incredible feeling for the vehicle, incredible control and he reads situations extremely fast. To think about it over and over and then try it is one thing but to recognize it right in the moment and to try it immediately and so quickly as well. You can only bow to that with a little envy and wish that all this continues for him and above all that he has fun.”
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