MUGELLO • Formula One needed Sebastian Vettel to stay in the sport and Racing Point, who become Aston Martin F1 next season, made a smart move in signing him, said six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 35-year-old Briton said at the Tuscan Grand Prix that Vettel's move from Ferrari to the Silverstone-based team, announced earlier, was exciting for the sport.
"It's quite a big shift from Ferrari to an up-and-coming team," he told Sky Sports television at the Mugello circuit. "Formula One needs to keep the great driver that he is in the sport, so I'm happy that he's continuing and not stopping.
"I'm just really happy for him because it's not been the easiest of journeys at Ferrari, and I think he'll learn so much from there."
Vettel has won 14 grands prix since joining Ferrari in 2015, making him their third-most successful driver behind Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda. But he has endured a difficult season, with Ferrari having to go into the team's 1,000th F1 race denying they are in a crisis.
After two point-less races at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, Ferrari fell to sixth in the constructors' championship last Sunday.
Racing Point have said four-time world champion Vettel will drive for them next year and beyond, replacing Mexican Sergio Perez.
Vettel, 33, had come close to retiring before the deal. His staying means F1 will have three multiple world champions still racing, with Spain's two-time champion Fernando Alonso back after two seasons out to drive for Renault, who will be renamed Alpine F1.
"I think it's one of the smartest moves that Aston Martin could do and I'm excited to see what he contributes and how he helps progress that team forward," said Hamilton, who has shared the podium with Vettel 55 times - the most in F1 history.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
F1 TUSCAN GRAND PRIX
Practice 3 & qualifying: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 5.55pm & 8.30pm