Ralf Schumacher thinks that if Sebastian Vettel had delayed his decision to retire by a few months, it would have been a different outcome.
Vettel triggered an intense ‘silly season’ that featured many twists and turns when he announced on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that he would retire at this campaign’s end.
Within only four days, Aston Martin had confirmed Fernando Alonso would be his replacement – and so began a game of F1 musical chairs that has left a couple of seats still to be filled.
Although the 35-year-old German’s career has essentially been on the decline since the second half of the 2018 season, recent signs have emerged that the lowest point has passed and he is bouncing back upwards again.
That is because Aston Martin, after a poor first half of the campaign, are starting to fulfil some of their potential – and Vettel has currently finished in the points in five out of seven races for the first time since a run that encompassed his latest victory at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix for Ferrari.
The most recent races, in Japan and the United States, saw particularly strong performances by the four-time former World Champion, finishing sixth and seventh respectively and shining in the way he drove at the Circuit of The Americas in particular.
If Vettel had waited until now to decide whether or not to continue racing, he may have chosen to stick around for at least one more year according to Schumacher.
“The Aston Martin is clearly better than it was at the beginning of the season,” said the 47-year-old in his column for Sky Germany and whose final F1 season, 2007, was the year in which Vettel made his debut.
“Sebastian Vettel had another strong weekend in Austin. He made the most of his opportunities, especially in the race – the pace of the car was there.
“He was very euphoric on the [team] radio after the race, which shows how much he still enjoys racing.
“When he made his decision to retire, things were not going well at Aston Martin at all. In the last races and also in Austin, he was absolutely competitive and scored a lot of points.
“He is really enjoying himself in the car at the moment. If he had to make a decision about his future today, I would say he wouldn’t make the same decision again.
“If things had gone the way they have at the beginning of the season, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have quit.”