Sebastian Vettel leads Aston Martin's return to Formula One after 60-year gap

British racing green back on the grid in Bahrain on March 28

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Formula One's opening race of 2021 in Bahrain will see Aston Martin end their 60-year absence from the grid.

Four-time world champion and ex-Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel will be at the wheel when they debut the AMR21 at Bahrain International Circuit on March 28.

Aston Martin’s return came with the acquisition of the Racing Point team last year, taking over the premises across the road from the Silverstone race circuit.

“It's quite inspirational to get a marque like Aston Martin back in to Formula One after so long,” said team CEO and principal Otmar Szafnauer, who ran Racing Point before the buy-out.

“I'm also very excited with the new driver line-up for this year with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll. We’re really hoping to continue on the same path we left off last year when we won the penultimate race and had some good performances towards the end.”

When the flag drops in Sakhir, it will also be the first time British racing green has been on an F1 grid in 17 years, despite six of the 10 teams currently based in the UK.

In keeping with its partial ownership of Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz will share the same engines that will power seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas.

“The name Aston Martin itself will command on-track performance and I can assure you, Sebastian Vettel is only doing this for one reason, to win," added Szafnauer.

"Everything we do is to make sure we can go faster and that's what the Aston Martin name commands.

“One of the reasons we took the opportunity to work with Seb is that he brings experience we can’t replicate. One example is a race restart when leading.

"We had one opportunity last year where we were leading before it was stopped and restarted but we lost our chance to win and finished third. Vettel has been in that situation so many times, nobody overtakes him at the restart.”

Sergio Perez won last year's race at Sakhir - Racing Point's first in F1 - as the team finished fourth in the constructors' title, seven points behind McLaren. Now with Aston Martin's funding, the team will be hoping to challenge for more victories.

McLaren chief Zak Brown expects intense battles and believes Aston Martin will benefit from the arrival of a "highly motivated" Vettel.

"That whole grouping we were fighting with last year, [Racing Point, Ferrari and Renault] we're going to pick up right where we left off in Abu Dhabi," Brown said at the launch of his own team last week.

"Sebastian Vettel is a multiple champion, so while he didn't have a great season last year, I think he'll be on his A-game and highly motivated, so we’ve got to watch all these guys."