Aston Martin last year made the surprise decision to sign Sebastian Vettel to replace Sergio Perez despite the latter having a contract with them for 2021. The reasoning they gave at the time was that they needed the experience and know-how of a world champion. However, reduced testing time and the aerodynamic sensitivity of their 2021 car meant that Vettel’s first race with the team did not go as planned as he finished outside the points in 15th place while his much younger teammate Lance Stroll finished in the points. Some have since suggested that Aston Martin might be regretting signing Sebastian Vettel. Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has now responded.
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0:00 - Are Aston Martin Regretting Signing Sebastian Vettel?
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I'm your host Dillon Shelley and first up on Formula World:
Are Aston Martin Regretting Signing Sebastian Vettel?
Otmar began by looking at the positives
“If you look at the positives, [Sebastian] had to start last and he was running in the top 10 for a while”
He then analyzed Vettel’s performance against that of Lance Stroll
“I had to leave the debrief so I don’t know what his feedback was, but watching from the pit wall, looking at his lap times, [they] were not too dissimilar to Lance, who’s been driving here a while and knows us well, knows the car well and ended up finishing in a pretty decent position - and at times was competitive on the mediums and the soft, as was Seb. So I’ve got to talk to him”
He was then asked if Vettel has failed to acclimatize to the Aston Martin team. Otmar responded by saying
“It’s way too early to say that. It’s really early days. You know, he didn’t do a lot of laps in winter testing; we only had three days of winter testing and he had to share those days with Lance and he seemed to have all the problems”
He further elaborated on the challenges Vettel is facing
“The car he’s driving now is totally different to the one he drove before, from car characteristics, powertrain, a lot of things”
He signed off by explaining why he is confident that Vettel will be able to do well eventually
“He only really felt happy with the car, getting to grips with knowing it and making set-up changes that suit him, in qualifying when he had the yellow flags. So, I’m still confident we’ll get Seb there”
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes that they “now have, a good chassis that responds well to everything and a competitive engine”
As such, he feels that they “will be on a par with Mercedes again in Imola”
He also accepted that “against Mercedes you can only strike if you are faultless. Everything has to be right”
He added that they “assume that the proportions will be similar to those in Bahrain, hopefully with the podium reversed and a win for Max” Verstappen
Aston Martin’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg is “hoping that” the team’s regular drivers “Sebastian and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year”
However, he also pointed out that “the team knows it can rely on” him “to step in and do an excellent job, and” he’s “fully prepared to take on that challenge”
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer feels that “in these difficult times it is important to have a capable and experienced reserve driver” like Nico Hulkenberg
He further pointed out that “Nico proved last year that he could jump in the car and perform superbly at a moment’s notice”
He also suggested that “now, with additional scope for preparation and integration”, they “know that” they “can rely on Nico to do an excellent job”
Williams’ George Russell thinks that “mental health is incredibly important. A lot of people, especially men, see psychology as a weakness”
“That's absolutely not true, your mind is the most powerful part of your body” added Russell
He then suggested that “It's good to talk to family and friends, but getting professional advice was very important”
“As a result”, he has “come back stronger, fitter and healthier than ever and” his “performance will only get better from it”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen mainly looks at what he “could have done better [himself] or can do differently, after every race”
He added that he doesn’t copy others as “it won't make you improve. He stays true to himself and does “what works best for” him
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has stated that he and Verstappen “never hated each other” when they were teammates at Red Bull
They “just wanted to end each other’s careers! It’s as simple as that” joked Ricciardo
Ricciardo “would say that those outside of the team maybe underestimated what Max and” he “did to each other, to push each other to that level”
“And yes, obviously, Pierre [Gasly] or Alex [Albon], couldn’t get on top of that. Or at least not soon enough”
Will Aston Martin regret signing Vettel?
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