Vettel brings what Aston Martin 'aspires to be' in F1 - Szafnauer

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Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer has defended the signing of Sebastian Vettel, claiming his experience can deliver what Aston Martin "aspires to be".

This week, weeks of speculation was finally ended when first Sergio Perez announced his departure on Wednesday before the outgoing Ferrari driver was confirmed as his replacement on Thursday.

The decision to drop the Mexican, who has been with the team since 2014 during their Force India days, has been met with a mixed reaction, but ultimately, the team believes Vettel can take Aston Martin to the next level.

“We’ve been talking to him [Vettel] for quite some time but the decision was made two days ago, really, the final decision,” Szafnauer explained to Sky Sports.

“It wasn’t easy, Sergio served us well, he’s a great racer, he’s a quick driver, he’s a safe pair of hands on a Sunday, especially as he doesn’t make many mistakes and bring the points in.

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“Ultimately, with Aston Martin coming in, it’s the right decision to get the experience that Sebastian brings with him, the experience of a top team, that’s where Aston Martin aspires to be. I think we did the right thing," the American says.

“I think he’ll bring with him a world champion’s work ethic and that’s what we all want to learn from and everyone is going to have to raise their game.

“He’ll be a great mentor for Lance [Stroll] too, who’s quite young and fast. Isn’t it great for someone who has just come into the sport to learn from a four-time world champion?”

Speaking on Thursday, Perez claimed he didn't expect to be dropped by Racing Point after sounding increasingly confident about retaining his seat in recent weeks.

However, Szafnauer claims it shouldn't have been a total surprise to Checo.

“He did have an inkling and he did know, we kept his manager Julien [Jakobi] informed of the process all the way through," he stated.

“But like I said, it wasn’t a clear decision and that’s credit to him because he did such a great job for us. He was kept aware of what was going on.

“What he didn’t know, because the decision wasn’t made, what the definitive action was going to be. That’s what he learned on Wednesday.”

In the statement confirming his exit, Perez says he has no Plan B in place for options elsewhere in F1 for 2021.

But offering his support for the 30-year-old, Daniel Ricciardo is hopeful he will stay on the grid.

“He is certainly worthy of a seat, to say the least,” the Australian said via

“As a competitor, I rate him. As a person, I get on with them. I saw him Sunday after the race, and I had a bit of an idea that this was going to be announced soon. It is obviously fairly late, well, it is not crazy late I think he still has time.

“There are few more seats available, and I hope for him that he finds a seat. He is still young. He is a year younger than me, I wish him well, I certainly do and hope to see him on the grid in 2021.”