Racing Point announced Thursday that four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will join the team next season, when it rebrands as Aston Martin.
Vettel currently drives for Ferrari, but announced in May he would leave the team at the end of 2020.
He will replace Sergio Perez who signed a three-year contract with Racing Point only last year. Perez has been with the Silverstone-based team for seven years and is uncertain what his next step will be.
Perez’s current teammate at Racing Point, Lance Stroll, whose father Lawrence Stroll heads the consortium of investors backing the team, will drive alongside Vettel in the new season.
Stroll Snr. also heads the consortium of investors backing Aston Martin, and serves as the automaker’s chairman. He sees F1 as an opportunity to build the Aston Martin brand, as well as help introduce cutting-edge technology to the automaker. Aston Martin’s previous stint in F1 was a brief one during the 1950s.
“I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter,” Vettel said in a statement. “The energy and commitment of Lawrence to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together.”
Racing Point has been portrayed as a sister team to Mercedes-AMG F1, as it uses Mercedes power units and some components of its 2020 car are common to Mercedes’ 2019 car. Racing Point was even fined 400,000 euros (approximately $473,000) and given a 15-point penalty in August after it was deemed the brake ducts on the team’s car were too similar to those on Mercedes’ 2019 car.
Racing Point’s ties with Mercedes have certainly helped. After years of being a backmarker, the team has improved significantly in the past couple of seasons. Currently, it is ranked fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, ahead of the likes of Ferrari and Renault.
In related news, Vettel last week announced he had acquired the Williams FW14B that Nigel Mansell drove in 1992, the season in which he secured his first and only championship.