Could the Aston Martin F1 Team use Sebastian Vettel to make Lance Stroll look good in Formula 1?
Yes, it’s a crazy thought in every way. You must be wondering, what on earth is the writer smoking! But Lance Stroll faces a perception issue – the perennial question being, does he or does he not deserve to race in Formula 1? The jury is out there, with more fans believing that the rich kid wouldn’t have been in Formula 1 had his father not purchased a team for him. He’s definitely had a longer rope than most other young drivers of his generation.
Sergio Perez is the fastest of the 3 drivers under contract with Racing Point / Aston Martin. He’s the only one who has made it into Q3. He doesn’t have the upgrades that Lance Stroll has had on his car since Mugello. AND he’s the driver who has been dropped for 2021! Ha! #F1
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) September 26, 2020
The perception issue is so BIG that Will Buxton wrote a post on Formula 1’s official website explaining why credit is long overdue for Stroll’s talent, ability and achievements. He actually made a Stroll vs. Perez comparison for the 2020 Formula 1 season look good. In my view, Formula 1’s official website should stick to reporting news, technical updates and analysis – basically, staying away from opinions. It’s hard to find out if opinions expressed have been externally (or in this case, internally) influenced.
However, back to the main point of this post – could Sebastian Vettel be used as a pawn to make Lance Stroll look good? Vettel’s career has been on the wane since that unfortunate crash under mixed weather conditions at the 2018 German Grand Prix. The question on everyone’s minds – which version of Vettel will Aston Martin get in 2021? Will it be the ruthless quadruple World Champion who we have been longing to see back in action? Or will it be the spin master?
The strangest part of the Sebastian Vettel-Aston Martin announcement? VET being asked if he will receive equal treatment from the team against Lance Stroll. Let’s remember, this is VET – a driver who’s enjoyed preferential treatment in the past. #F1 #AstonMartin
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) September 12, 2020
But my interest was in another question that did the rounds in the official media conference after the Vettel-Aston Martin news was announced. Would Vettel get equal treatment from the team against Stroll? For the races in Mugello and Russia, Racing Point could only produce one set of their upgrade package. The package was put in use on Stroll’s car with the team explaining that they chose the driver placed higher in the Drivers’ Championship. This is sound logic, of course.
However, what if Vettel doesn’t actually get equal treatment? He may get the same package as Stroll but there are several other ways a team could compromise a driver’s race, if they desired to do so. Of course, I am not suggesting that Aston Martin will – such a thought itself is blasphemous. After all, they’re not paying few tens of millions to Vettel to not have him score points and help the team unlock its next step in terms of results and performance. (Btw, remember the strange extra tyre stop for Nico Hulkenberg in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix?)
But if Lawrence Stroll’s driver decisions are anything to go by, his fatherly instincts have trumped his business instincts. First, Esteban Ocon was let off to make way for his son Lance. Now, Perez has been let off despite consistently outscoring Stroll in the seasons they’ve been team-mates. Wouldn’t Stroll’s perception rise dramatically if he consistently beat a former World Champion?
Racing Point had at least four driver options for 2021 – Lance Stroll, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez & Sebastian Vettel. It’s likely that they’ll go with a Stroll-Vettel pairing. But on current pace, is that the slowest pairing from options available? #F1 #RacingPoint #Perez
— Kunal Shah (@kunalashah) September 9, 2020