Following a successful, but controversial, season in 2020, Aston Martin endured a challenging two years after signing Vettel at the end of his Ferrari career.
The then-Racing Point team notched up 210 on-track points in 2020, alongside a famous Sakhir Grand Prix win, before a 15 points penalty for copying restricted parts was applied.
But in 2022, the team collected just 55 points across 22 races, representing a substantial drop from the 2020 campaign, as the team finished the season as the seventh fastest team.
“The first reaction of many people was: ‘The fact that Aston Martin are so fast this season must be getting on your nerves by now?’,” Vettel said to Red Bull Racing’s in-house magazine. “Okay, maybe it would be easier if the car was rubbish in the sense of: I’m not missing anything anyway.
“No, I’m primarily happy for the team and I’m happy for Fernando Alonso. For many years he didn’t have a car in which he could show his driving class. Now he can and he’s at the front.”
Some have suggested that the lack of competitiveness may have been a contributing factor to Vettel’s decision to retire from F1 at the end of 2022, alongside perceived conflicts of environmental activism coupled with his career as a racing driver.
And in 2023, Aston Martin have breathed a new lease of success that has seen the German’s replacement, Alonso, record six podiums to date.
Alonso has managed to pressure Sergio Perez for the runners-up spot behind the 2023 champion-elect, Max Verstappen although Aston Martin’s pace has waned in recent races.
The team is confident that they understand their AMR23 package once again and have prepared updates to correct the slump in form.
Life away from the paddock
When a high-performance athlete retires from their respective sport they lose a routine of training and competing that may have been decades long.
In Vettel’s case this accounted for as many as 21 years of his life yet sometimes an athlete just cannot shift the itch to return to the adrenaline rush of their sport. Michael Schumacher demonstrated this when he signed for Mercedes in 2010, four years after retiring in 2006.
While Vettel admits that nothing can match F1, he says he is excited about the prospect of taking time to develop away from the sport.
“There is nothing that pushes me to the limit like Formula 1.” Vettel added. “That is what I miss the most. This is where I have to put the brakes on myself because that’s what I wanted to find out about myself: what happens when I’m not in competition mode?
“I’m not saying it’s easy or claiming I’ve already done it. I’m on a quest, and that process itself is, after all, exciting. The dynamic at home is different because I am present. That’s new for me and also for the rest of the family.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
F1 will return from its summer break with the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort on August 25-27, where championship leader Max Verstappen will be racing on home soil.