Aston Martin has been one of the most underwhelming teams in 2022, lacking the pace to challenge for points consistently and, even then, only fighting for the lower end of the points.
The Silverstone-based team signed Sebastian Vettel at the end of 2020 with the promise of podiums (at the bare minimum) but have instead found themselves in a battle with Haas and Alpha Tauri in the lower midfield.
Despite the promise of Aston Martin's radical Red Bull-inspired upgrades for the Spanish GP, it seems unlikely they will be able to provide Sebastian Vettel with the kind of machinery that would motivate a Quardouple F1 World Champion.
Vettel touched on this subject in the Friday Press Conference, speaking candidly about the team's current situation:
"Obviously, looking where I'm coming from, from all those years before, ninth or tenth is not what makes you really feel excited about, but I guess you could ask the same question to Fernando, or this year probably a little bit to Lewis.
So, you know, we are in a way dependent on the package that we have. But nevertheless, the work that goes into it from the team's side, everybody's side, is big, and there's a big push in trying to improve our car.
We had a big package that basically is a new car which takes some understanding, what we believe is the better direction for the future, the next couple of races, and now we're waiting for - obviously - the next package to arrive to give us more performance."
It would be a stretch to suggest that Vettel's retirement is imminent, as the German is still performing at a strong level and leading his team. Aston Martin's Mike Krack has made clear the team doesn't want Vettel to leave, but Vettel's future will ultimately be in his own hands.
The next few rounds could be significant, as Vettel has said he will continue to evaluate his future in upcoming races. In this case, Aston Martin must give Sebastian Vettel some incentive to continue in F1 beyond the occasional points finish.