How Vettel retirement opens F1 door for Aussie

Former F1 driver Marc Surer is predicting that this season will be four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel’s last in the sport.

Vettel recently appeared on the BBC’s Question Time where the Aston Martin driver said his mind is often wrestling with Formula 1’s contribution to climate change.

A strong activist for environmental and social justice issues, Vettel admitted there was hypocrisy to his climate campaigning, which troubles him.

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“It does [make me a hypocrite],” he said, to laugh from the Question Time hearing.

“You’re right when you laugh because these are questions I ask myself every day.

“When I get out of the car of course I’m thinking as well, ‘Is this something that you should do — travel the world, wasting resources?'”

Out of contract at the end of 2022, this is the closest Vettel has ever come to admitting he is questioning his future in F1.

According to Surer, as Aston Martin lacks the potential to deliver another championship, the 34-year-old will fulfill his contract with the British team and retire.

“It doesn’t really seem that the team can become champion. So what should he do? Remain there?” he asked

“It’s more a question of motivation, if you know I’m fighting for tenth place, is that really the motivation for a four-time world champion to give everything? I don’t know.

“I see him fulfilling the contract and saying goodbye.”

Surer added that he can’t see the former Red Bull and Ferrari driver being acquired by another top team.

“He’s gone from Ferrari, he had the chance at Aston Martin of all things, so it’s not working now either,” he said.

Similarly, two-time titleholder Fernando Alonso finds himself out of contract at season’s end.

Reports have persisted since last year that Alonso – who is currently driving a potentially fast but often unreliable Alpine – may be tempted to move across to Aston Martin to see out the remainder of his career.

Alonso turns 41 this year, yet it remains clear that he has more to give. Vettel, on the other hand, has battled to recapture his winning form – and the signing of another world champion could satisfy team boss Lawrence Stroll’s hunger for another high-profile driver.

That could open the door for Australian Oscar Piastri to burst onto the F1 scene.

The 21-year-old aligned himself as an Alpine reserve driver for this season, with the purpose of graduating to a permanent race seat in 2023.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon’s place at Alpine is already confirmed having committed to a three-year deal that will see him to the end of 2024, but Alonso is yet to sign an extension.

The Spaniard has expressed his desire to stay but with Piastri waiting in the wings, a decision is yet to be made.

Alpine team principal Szafnauer said the team would be better placed to make a decision surrounding their driver lineup around the time of the British Grand Prix in July.

“We haven’t thought that through yet, because it’s a little bit early,” he said when asked by about the timing of any decision.

“But around Silverstone we will probably be talking about it.”

There are also rumors circulating that Williams may look to replace struggling Canadian Nicholas Latifi midseason.

That could provide another avenue for Piastri, with Alpine previously encouraging him to gain as much track experience as possible through opportunities with other teams such as McLaren.

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