No overnight success for Vettel and Aston Martin
By Mat Coch
Thursday 4th March, 2021 - 10:12am
Aston Martin’s Formula 1 boss, Otmar Szafnauer, has suggested the arrival of Sebastian Vettel is a step forward but success will not be immediate for the team.
Vettel joins Aston Martin, which was called Racing Point last year, after a stint at Ferrari which netted 14 wins in six seasons.
The last of those came at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, the Scuderia then struggling through its worst campaign in four decades in 2020.
By contrast, fortunes at the Silverstone-based Aston Martin have been on the rise, launching the new AMR21 earlier today.
The operation claimed its first win in nearly 20 years at the Sakhir Grand Prix with Sergio Perez, the last coming under the Jordan guise via Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Lance Stroll also claimed pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix, and there were a host of podium appearances throughout the 17-race campaign.
It was a controversial year for the operation after it produced a car remarkably similar to the 2019 world championship winning Mercedes, resulting in a 400,000 Euro fine and the loss of 15 points in the constructors’ title fight.
Nonetheless, Racing Point finished fourth in the standings and established itself as a serious contender at the front of the midfield – and occasionally capable of mixing it with those at the very front.
That upturn in performance coincided with fresh investment from the operation’s new owners, led by Lawrence Stroll, and prefaced its rebranding to Aston Martin for this season.
The signing of Vettel, a four-time world champion, is therefore something of a statement of intent from the team, a driver Szafnauer expects to push the squad further.
“Sebastian is someone we can all learn from, and his integration into the team has been very smooth – as you would expect from someone with so much experience,” he explained.
“It is clear in my mind that Sebastian has lost none of his speed.
“It is down to us to create an environment in which he feels comfortable so he can deliver at his brilliant best.”
Aside from the signing of Vettel and fresh investment courtesy of its new owners, the team has been comparatively stable.
Szafnauer has been a stalwart of the team since its Force India days, and highly rated technical director Andrew Green joined the franchise in 1990 (though had stints at British American Racing and Red Bull).
“Having visited the factory and met the senior people as well as my engineers and mechanics, I can see they are a really good group,” said Vettel.
“I feel confident that, by the support Lawrence brings together with the Aston Martin name, we will make real progress together.”
With a step regulation change due for 2021, the coming season is expected to be broadly similar to 2020 with regards to the pecking order.
Large gains are therefore unlikely, with Szafnauer looking simply to continue the progress the team has made.
“Our goal for 2021 is to build on what we achieved last year and take a further step forward,” he said.
“There is no reason why we cannot achieve that with our talented workforce combined with the new financial investment.
“Success does not come overnight, but I am convinced that we are putting the key elements in place to continue moving up the grid this year and in the years ahead.”