Can Sebastian Vettel thrill F1 fans at his new team Aston Martin?
JOHANNESBURG - Sebastian Vettel, weirdly sporting a forest green fire suit, looked excited, ready, happy, a grin on his face – and that made me excited, ready and happy for the upcoming Formula One season.
I'll make no secret about it: I unabashedly dig the four-time world champion, and the way that he was treated by Ferrari last year left a bitter taste in my mouth regarding the current management of the Scuderia.
So, too see and hear Vettel so optimistic about the upcoming season honestly put a smile on my face.
Officially introduced as a driver for the newly unveiled Aston Martin R21 by 007, Daniel Craig, this week, Vettel has a lot to prove this season, and the next couple of years, after an annus horribilis in 2020. He will need every trick in the book, nd every gadget at hand to erase that disaster, and many believe that Aston Martin, (formerly Racing Point) is the right fit for the German.
And why not?
His new team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship – ahead of the much larger teams of Renault and Ferrari – last year, racing to four podiums, including a first victory.
Sure, they were aided by a bit of luck in their endeavours, but then in F1 a bit of luck can take you a long way.
Aston Martin also again have the advantage of using some parts and specs from the now ever-dominating Mercedes in their 2021 racing package. There is no doubt in my mind that with the experience and expertise of Vettel, they have the opportunity to equal that feat, if not surpass it, while taking major strides forward in the coming seasons.
And that seems to be the general consensus in the paddock, and among racing pundits, too.
With the Silver Arrows reigning supreme in recent years, and Lewis Hamilton more often than not sauntering to victory, F1 needs an injection of theatrics to liven up the sport. A sullen and dejected Vettel, as seen last year, doesn’t help.
At the unveiling on Wednesday, Vettel did not mince his words about his previous failings, while taking thinly veiled potshots at his former team.
“It isn’t a secret that at stages last year I wasn’t at my happiest,” the 33-year-old said.
“I know it wasn’t to my standards but I am very much at peace with it. This year I am very much looking forwards. I think I have another world championship in me ... I am not too old and still have a long time in me.”
Time will tell if this newly inspired Vettel can help drive Aston Martin to glory, and we will get our first glimpse of his speed in the AMR21 next week, with the race calender starting in Bahrain later this month.
But for now it is lekker to glimpse Vettel so enamoured with F1 again ... long may it last.