Sebastian Vettel’s move to Aston Martin next season “has been substantially decided for some time”, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
Gazzetta claims talks between the driver, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of this year, and the team that will be rebranded from Racing Point initially occurred “more than two months ago”.
That timeframe reflects when the first rumours linking Vettel with Aston Martin began to emerge.
Similarly, the pink-paged newspaper also endorsed recent speculation that Aston Martin were all set to announce Vettel as the replacement for Sergio Perez until the Mexican tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the British Grand Prix weekend.
“The negotiation between Sebastian Vettel and Racing Point has been going on for a long time,” reported Gazzetta, translated from Italian.
“The first contacts took place more than two months ago and the plan was to announce the signing of the German between the two Silverstone races.
“The basis of the agreement has been substantially decided for some time but it was necessary to establish (and monetise) the role Vettel would have had as Formula 1 ambassador of the new Aston Martin brand, which from 2021 will give the team its name.
“Well, the commercial details of the contract should now be in place too. But in the meantime, Sergio Perez, the driver destined to be replaced by Vettel, contracted the coronavirus and was forced to miss a GP.
“So the team, for reasons of delicacy, could postpone the announcement of Vettel’s engagement and separation from the Mexican, who has been a pillar in recent seasons, bringing sponsors (around $15million a year) and results.”
The report also referred to termination clauses in Perez’s contract and the Mexican’s recent quotes stating that he would be the likeliest driver replaced due to his team-mate being Lance Stroll, son of Racing Point’s owner Lawrence Stroll.
Gazzetta continued: ‘Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer had recently come out of the closet admitting the existence of the deal: ‘We are interested in Vettel’.
“After the race on Sunday, another clue was added: the Ferrari driver was seen getting into Szafnauer’s car to probably go to a meeting at the team’s headquarters, which is located right next to the Silverstone racetrack.”