2020 proved to be an extremely difficult year for Sebastian Vettel as he struggled to get to grips with the SF1000 and ended up a lowly 13th in the Drivers’ Championship. He was comprehensively beaten by teammate Charles Leclerc as the 23-year-old from Monaco finished 66 points and five places above his four-time World Champion in the standings.
However, Aston Martin technical director Andrew Green is looking towards the future and believes the team can get the best out of Sebastian Vettel in 2021.
“We haven’t really got into the where his head was at previously – we’re a team looking forward – but all I can say is he appears incredibly relaxed,” Green said. “He has integrated into the team very quickly, his contribution started immediately, and I think we’re going to get the best out of Seb, I really do, he’s at the top of his career, he’s there, so I think if we can’t extract the best out of Seb it’s our fault, not his. I’m confident we can get Seb in the right place.”
Asked about Vettel’s driving style, Green said the German’s way of driving is a lot less extreme compared to Sergio Perez’s; this is despite the fact the Mexican has a huge reputation for looking after his tyres superbly during races and is right up there with the best of them in that department.
“Seb, yes he does have his own personal driving style, but that’s no different to the driving style we’ve seen from other drivers, and I’d say not as extreme as the driver he’s replacing, who had a very extreme driving style that was very difficult to get right at all tracks. It shone on certain tracks and not on others.
“I think Seb’s style is a lot less extreme, and we have the tools and the capability to tune the car to suit him for sure. We’ve already started working on that — we’ve been working on that on the simulator for the last month and he seems very happy with the direction that we’ve taken, so no problems there.”
After Racing Point’s 2020 challenger was dubbed the ‘pink Mercedes’ by many, the Silverstone-based team will have rear end parts of the W11 on their car this year. They finished 4th in the standings last year and will be looking to go one better in 2021.
With the regulations allowing customer teams to upgrade their packages with year-old components, Aston Martin has taken up the opportunity to use the rear end from the Mercedes W11, including their daring rear suspension.
Green explained that the biggest performance gains will come from the aerodynamic side, but didn’t want to reveal too much information about the tokens spent on the survival cell alteration.
“I don’t want to go into specifics,” he said. “But the main drive in performance is aerodynamics, so there’s obviously a big push on the aerodynamic side.
“The regulation change that came through late last year had a big effect on the aero performance and we spent the winter trying to try to recover the losses from the changes in the regulations. That’s been a big focus.
“We’ve changed the rear of the car now to the 2020 suspension as supplied by Mercedes, That was always the plan.
“So, those are the two main areas that we’ve been focused on over the winter.”
The main worry for Green was the late switch of the aerodynamic regulations and said it was the area they were most focused on during the short winter break.
“We had already committed to the 2020 suspension and gearbox before the regulations changed,” he said.
“So there was a concern that potentially it was going in the wrong direction.
“But it soon became apparent that as a minimum it complemented them, and so it really turned out to be a non-issue.
“What was harder was the late change to the aerodynamic regulations. That was the one that required us to react faster.
“That was the biggest aspect of what we were looking at over the winter, the changes that the FIA have made rather than the planned changes that we already had in place.”
Green believes the team has learned a lot since switching towards a Mercedes-style aero concept and believes there is a lot of performance to come from the AMR21.
“The initial direction which was set almost two years ago now seems a long way behind us,” said Green. “And we’ve learned an incredible amount since then.
“It was a challenge for the group, and I think along the way we’ve done a lot of really good work.
“But last year we also made a few mistakes as well. And we definitely learned from those mistakes.
“And we’ve looked to correct them for the 21 car, which gives us a lot of optimism for the performance of the car going forward.
“So all in all, I’m happy with the decision we made two years ago. And we’re still building on it.
“The biggest challenge that we see is the 2022 car, which is on the horizon, which is such a step-change in concept from anything we’ve done before.
“It is eating a significant amount of development resource we would normally put into the current season car.
“There is a lot of performance left in the ’21 car. Our biggest challenge is to try and extract it in the time that we have available, which is quite limited.”