Aston Martin expecting Vettel contract decision soon

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel during the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel during the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

Aston Martin’s Mike Krack has sung Sebastian Vettel’s praises as the team await the driver’s decision on whether he will continue with them for 2023.

Vettel’s current deal with Aston Martin ends at the conclusion of the 2022 season, with the ball seemingly in the four-time former World Champion’s court as to whether he wishes to continue or not with the team.

Rumours have swirled all season that this year could be Vettel’s last in F1, given his increasing interest in environmental causes away from the sport as well as a young family at home in Switzerland. He also was recently fined by the FIA after expressing frustrations during a driver meeting, which resulted in him storming out of the room.

Given Aston Martin’s relative lack of success, and no guarantee of a seat elsewhere, Sky F1 broadcaster Ted Kravitz hypothesised Vettel’s behaviour hints at potential retirement from the sport.

Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack, who worked directly with Vettel during the German’s early days in F1 at BMW-Sauber, has said the German driver continues to impress the team to whom he committed his future after being ousted from Ferrari at the end of 2020.

“I very [much] hope he stays with us. The next weeks will tell,” Krack said on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“I think he needs to make up his mind, but when you saw him in Baku (where Vettel finished sixth), when you saw him in Canada, as soon as the car was a little bit back there, you saw the fire in his eyes and you could hear on the radio or in the debriefs there was total focus.

“When you know him, you hear how he talks – he’s on it. You could see he was satisfied and you could really sense he was enjoying what he was doing. And I hope he continues doing so.”

With Aston Martin’s AMR22 proving to be one of the weaker cars on the grid, for example Vettel qualifying plum last at the Austrian Grand Prix, Krack said his professionalism in the wake of such disappointments helps to keep the team motivated.

Sergio Perez speaking with a serious Sebastian Vettel during a press conference. Silverstone July 2022
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez speaking with a serious Sebastian Vettel during a press conference. Silverstone July 2022

“[He dealt with it] very professionally,” Krack said.

“He knows very well after results like that the team is down, everybody is down. It would be so easy for him to come in and be frustrated and make comments that are even more frustrating for everybody because a lot of drivers cannot hide their frustration.

“They just release it into the team or into the press. Sebastian doesn’t do that. He’s very self-critical.

“If he thinks he had a part in the result, he is not too proud to say. If he thinks the car was not where it has to be, he says it, but it is always constructive. This is really a big asset because it is in these moments when you see the real assets you have with people like that, and not in the good times.”

Krack also revealed there are moments when Vettel produces a time that astonishes the Aston Martin squad and leaves him asking ‘how did he do that?’

“This is what you expect from a top-class driver as he is, so we are not surprised,” he explained.

“We are more surprised at the rare occasions when he doesn’t do it. We are very well aware of the diamond we have there.

“That is also why I think it’s always very unfair, you remember after Melbourne people talking him into retirement and all these kinds of things. He was only 34 years old at that time! So I think there are plenty of years when he can really be successful if he has a car that can do it, which he doesn’t have.

“I think F1 quickly biases things towards drivers not performing, which I think is very unfair.”

Given Krack’s knowledge of Vettel from before his heady days as a four-time F1 World Champion, the Luxembourger spoke of how Vettel’s personality has changed in the intervening 15 years.

“He has become much more reflective,” Krack commented.

“Obviously after 15 years all of us do. We are all different people when we are 35 than when we are 20. He has a lot of life experience because F1 is also a bit of a booster in terms of aging, I think!

“But a large part of how he is today is very similar to how he was in the past. But now [he has] also different ideas and different opinions. You see that you discuss with a much more mature person than back in the day, but we have to also not forget we also have 15 years more on the clock than we had at the time.”