• Racing Point will become Aston Martin in 2021
• Vettel and Alonso reportedly in talks to the team next year
• Racing Point's current drivers are under contract for 2021
The Formula 1 drivers' market is in a bit of a tizz following Sebastian Vettel's announcement that he'll be departing Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season. Furthermore, Vettel is yet to secure a racing seat for 2021 and beyond, and failure to do so could see him quit the sport altogether.
With Valtteri Bottas claiming that Mercedes-AMG will not sign Vettel next year, the German driver only has one or two realistic options for a competitive seat: Either join Renault, who has lost Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren. Or join Racing Point, the team who will, effectively, compete with a 2019 Mercedes F1 car this year.
For Racing Point, the team will change its name to Aston Martin in 2021, given that team owner, Lawrence Stroll, acquired shares in the British automaker. But a factor that could influence Vettel joining Aston Martin next year comes in the form of a rival driver: Fernando Alonso.
If the rumours are true and Aston Martin is looking to sign either Vettel or Alonso next year, which driver should it be?
Sebastian Vettel (left) and Fernando Alonso (Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Vettel is not just any driver. Having won four drivers' championships, he is one of the best the sport has ever seen. Add to this the number of races he's won, and you have a sure-fire driver who knows how to get the job done. But the last six seasons at Ferrari, however, were far from ideal and saw the German fall short of winning the championship on numerous occasions.
Does this mean that he has forgotten his race craft and skill? Certainly not, but coming up short against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes so many times does impact your mindset. A change of scenery might just be what Vettel needs, and it could mean that he will give Aston Martin the performance injection it needs.
Alonso is widely regarded as one of the best drivers of our generation, but a slew of poor career decisions saw him failing to add to his two F1 championships. Stints at Ferrari and McLaren failed to recreate the same successes at Renault in 2005 and 2006. Still, the Spaniard kept a level head and drove as best he could on any given race day.
But Alonso does come with baggage. He is known to disrupt the ambience in a team; hence both Ferrari and McLaren have made it clear that they will not sign him for 2021 and beyond. A team like Aston Martin, however, could benefit significantly from Alonso's expertise; even if it means having to deal with the melodrama that always surrounds Alonso.
Picking a driver
For 2020, Racing Point will compete with its current drivers: Sergio Perez and Stroll's son, Lance. Both drivers are under contract for 2021, and each one has merit to be retained. Lance could stick around because it's his father's team, and Perez because of the huge cash injection he brings with him.
But that does not guarantee retainment for either driver. Because the new regulations will only come into play in 2022, Racing Point (or Aston Martin, if you will) could cut one of its drivers and appoint either Vettel or Alonso. This with the eye on getting closer to the top three teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull) in 2021, and to have an experienced driver come 2022. If it does come to it, Perez will most likely be shown the door at the end of 2020, given that Stroll Snr. bought the Force India team in 2017 to ensure his son's future in F1.
So, which driver, between Vettel and Alonso, should drive alongside Lance Stroll in 2021?
Alonso has had success outside of F1 since walking away at the end of 2018, and he is proven that he can be competitive in any motorsport code. With the F1 schedule being as compact and demanding as it is, he will not have much time to try his hand at anything else. Vettel, on the other hand, is still F1 fit and will not need as much time as Alonso to get accustomed to a new F1 car - not that Alonso will struggle.
But Vettel is a driver focused on winning and improving a car, and tends to avoid F1 politics as much as possible. This is both an attribute and asset, and something that could go a long way in ensuring Aston Martin's success in the sport.
Pick: Sebastian Vettel