Due to the continuous Covid-19 outbreak and different regulations and situations per country, F1 decided to switch the pre-season testing from Barcelona to Bahrain, a location that will most likely be the opener of the 2021 season after Australia was moved to the second half of the calendar. The test will take place between 12th and 14th of March. Because of the circumstances, each driver will (most likely) have only 1.5 days in the car before the season starts, which could be a potential disruption before the season starts for many drivers, concerning the amount of shuffling between the teams we will see on the grid (since a few drivers changed their teams).
But, as bad as it could look, Sebastian Vettel, who will be representing Aston Martin F1 from 2021 onwards does not seem to be fazed by it. As he said himself in a recent interview: “From what I hear, at the moment there will be one test prior to the season and that will be the first time I will be in the new car. [Am I] concerned? No. If it happens to be that then that’s what it is. Over the years, I think you get used to very little track time and making the most of the track time, so even if one and a half days doesn’t sound like a lot, still you can get some decent running. I think it’s the same for all of us and you can do a lot of stuff beforehand nowadays. I guess the key will be the preparation leading into the test and then leading to the first race.”
Getting a 4-times World Champion on board of the team has been something very exciting for the guys and the girls at Aston Martin, but especially for Otmar Szafnauer, the team principal of what used to be Racing Point F1. He hopes that having the German as one of the drivers would have a positive impact not only on the staff but also on young Stroll, who’s completing the Aston Martin driver line-up for 2021. Although Vettel’s last season at Ferrari was definitely not one that showcased his talent, Szafnauer feels that the impact he will have on the team will be huge.
As he said in an interview: “It’s hugely exciting for everyone in the team. In Sebastian, we have a proven four-time world champion with experience of helping teams become race-winning and championship-contending outfits. That’s why he is such an important signing for us. He brings a winning mentality and we will all undoubtedly learn a lot from him on this journey.”
He added: “In Lance, we have a young and talented, hard-working driver who enjoyed his best campaign to date last year and really made strides in all areas of his racing. We know if we give him the tools, he’s more than capable of helping the team reach its goals. We also think Sebastian will bring out the best in Lance, with Lance pushing Sebastian hard in return, so we’re delighted with our 2021 line-up. It’s the ideal blend of experience, race-winning knowhow, and raw talent.”
When asked about the prospect for the upcoming season, Szafnauer replied: “We believe we have all the ingredients in place to compete for even more podiums and hopefully victories too. We’ve earned a well-deserved reputation for punching above our weight, so we’re confident we can do the Aston Martin name proud right from the get-go. While the challenge was once establishing ourselves as the most efficient team on the grid, now there’s an exciting opportunity to establish ourselves as a top team, while still maintaining that efficiency, in order to add an exciting chapter to the Aston Martin legacy.”
When most of the teams are able to run the older cars during the testing in order to get the new drivers acquainted with the machinery, this is not a luxury that Aston Martin will have. In another interview, Szafnauer spoke about the integration of Vettel into the team and the pre-season testing. He said: “We... don’t have the ability to run a two-year-old car. [But] we’ll be doing everything we can with Seb to get him integrated into the team, do a lot of sim work with him as well, and then use the three days of testing that we have to the best of our ability to get him ready for the first race.”
Although it seems Vettel won’t have the easiest start to his new journey, it is still very exciting to see what will come out from this partnership, and if we’ll see the 4-times World Champion anytime soon on the podium.