A day can be a long time in motorsport. No sooner has Sergio Perez completed two of his most competitive race weekends in what is now almost a full decade competing in Formula 1, there is growing talk he might be about to lose his drive…

Such is the pace of the F1 rumour mill, by Monday this week the media was filled with speculation that his seat with Racing Point is being threatened by Sebastian Vettel, or more accurately, the temptation for Racing Point to lure a four-time F1 world champion.

According to a report in the German publication Bild, Vettel has been offered a deal by Racing Point and is deep in discussions.

Curiously, Racing Point already has both Perez and Lance Stroll, whose father Lawrence owns the team, under contract on what it describes as ‘long-term’ deals.

While Perez will almost certainly respond to inevitable questions about his future at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix with ‘I have a contract for 2021’, it doesn’t take much to consider why Racing Point might be willing to sacrifice its long-time collaborator in favour of something more showy.

But if Racing Point does go ahead and drop Perez (0 wins) in favour of Vettel (53 wins from 243 starts and four world championships), will it really be making the right decision?

The case for Sebastian Vettel

It’s not hard to make a case for signing Sebastian Vettel on statistics alone. He is third on the all-time winners’ list, has four F1 world titles to his name and is regarded as one of the finest technical racers the sport has seen, as demonstrated during Red Bull’s dominant era.

That said, there is a reason why Vettel is not only out of a drive right now, but is seeing the options befitting of those statistics taken away from him. A less than convincing Ferrari stint has somewhat tarnished Vettel’s reputation, but he remains a great racing driver.

Vettel has had a long time to think about his options after Ferrari dropped its bombshell back in May that the two parties would be parting ways and he has been taking his time over a decision.

While a move to Mercedes would surely have been his number one option, that looks impossible with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton set to retained by the German manufacturer. Seats at McLaren and Renault have also gone, while a move back to Red Bull is also highly unlikely, barring an unforeseen and last-minute change of heart.

The next best bet for Vettel if he is indeed to remain in F1 now falls with Racing Point, which is set to transition into the Aston Martin works team for 2021.

Driving for such a brand would certainly have its merits, and with a new factory on the horizon and big aims for fighting for victories in the coming years, the project’s ambitions are on the right track. Surrounded by a great team, Vettel would likely relish the underdog status and chance to rebuild his status.

Naturally, the capture of Vettel’s signature would mark a huge coup for Aston Martin, outlining its intent by landing the best available driver on the market to spearhead the Silverstone-based outfit into a new era.

Vettel remains motivated and appears keen on becoming a part of Aston Martin’s vision. It’s not hard to see why, given that Racing Point already boasts an incredibly competitive car that will transition into 2021 with development frozen until 2022 - when it is hoped that a major overhaul to F1’s regulations will level out the playing field.

From both sides, it appears a no-brainer…

The case for Sergio Perez

In order for Vettel to get the drive, it would require one of Perez or Stroll to lose their seats.

Given Stroll’s position within the ‘family business’, it seems unlikely, at first glance at least, that it would be the Canadian who makes way.

Racing Point has history of shifting a highly-talented driver in order to accommodate Stroll, as seen with Esteban Ocon being forced onto the sidelines for 2019. If the reports are to believed, then history is about to repeat itself.

But Perez deserves better.

He has been a loyal and integral figure for Racing Point and its former Force India guise since moving to the team from McLaren at the end of 2013.

Perez has also been one of the most consistent drivers of the V6 hybrid era with a number of quality performances over the years, including single-handedly picking up more podium appearances than any other midfield runner in the last six seasons.

While it is understood that Perez does have an exit clause in his 2021 Racing Point contract, it would prove expensive for the team to get rid - not to mention to then get hold of Vettel who will command a far bigger salary. He also brings a lot of financial backing to the team from his Mexican sponsors.

Racing Point owes Perez a great deal for the pivotal role he played in saving hundreds of jobs by triggering the administration process which ultimately led to Stroll’s takeover back in the turbulent summer of 2018.

Perez and his backers would seemingly only be willing to leave for a better opportunity in F1, and those appear few and far between with all realistic places for landing a competitive drive already filled.

However, ESPN Mexico claims that Perez’s agent has been in contact with both Haas and Alfa Romeo for weeks.

Does Lance Stroll ‘really’ need to stay at Racing Point?

In all likelihood, Stroll does hold a major advantage to keep his place at Racing Point, but that does not necessarily mean it is a guaranteed formality.

While Lawrence Stroll’s initial involvement in F1 was most likely with the aim of getting his son a place on the grid, his position at Racing Point and subsequent movements to become involved with Aston Martin hint at bigger and bolder long-term plans.

If he really wants to turn Aston Martin into a winning force in F1, he will need the best possible driver line-up at his disposal.

Although Lance has shown some encouraging early signs of improvements in the opening two rounds of the season, he still needs to up his game to reach Perez’s consistent levels of performance.

With his best business head on, can Stroll Sr honestly place hand on heart and say that a Vettel-Stroll partnership is a stronger option than a Vettel-Perez line-up?

Perhaps it might make sense to temporarily ship Stroll out of the Aston Martin fold on a loan-style basis to another team - maybe a cash-strapped Haas - until a stage when he comes of age, or Vettel decides to hand up his overalls.

Either way of looking at it, the Racing Point-Aston Martin moniker has a big decision to make.

The reality is that the team has a rare chance to land a major statement of intent by getting a multiple world champion on its side with seemingly no rivals trying to out-bid it. That is surely too big an opportunity to let slip away.

All the signs are pointing towards Vettel being theirs for the taking…

Ollie Barstow contributed to this article.

 

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