Racing heat is on Vettel with Perez’s sizzling form

Racing heat is on Vettel with Perez’s sizzling form

LONDON • Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel now has big shoes to fill next season after Sergio Perez won Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix for Racing Point, Formula One’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn said on Monday.

The German is joining what will be the rebranded Aston Martin team from Ferrari, where he has been out of sorts the past two years.

The move has pushed on-form Perez, who at 30 is three years younger than Vettel, out of the door.

While the Mexican currently has no seat lined up for next year, he is fourth in the drivers’ standings after his first F1 win and rumours persist he could replace Alexander Albon at Red Bull, as the Thai has yet to convince alongside teammate Max Verstappen.

Brawn, in a column on the website, repeated his view that it will be a “tragedy” if Perez is not on the grid next year.

“The team (Racing Point) must be thinking about the decisions they have made, losing him when he’s driving so well,” said the Briton. “His replacement I’m sure will come back stronger, as he’s in a bit of a trough at the moment, but Checo is a guaranteed deal.

“So that’ll be interesting to see how that develops. In a way, Seb has fairly big shoes to fill now, even if he’s a world champion.”

Vettel won his titles with Red Bull from 2010-13 and has 53 race wins. However, he only has one podium finish this year – third at last month’s Turkish Grand Prix – while last season, he had just one race win in Singapore.

But Perez is not expecting a call from Red Bull, telling Sky F1 yesterday: “No, I don’t think (so), to be honest. My picture is getting clearer. If I am not on the grid next year, I already have options to come back in 2022. So I am at peace with myself.

“I’m in a nice place. I can definitely take a year out.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirmed seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was making good progress in his recovery from Covid-19 but would need to return a negative test by tomorrow to ensure his participation in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.