Aston Martin’s ‘Azerbaijan Grand Prix podium-sitter’ Sebastian Vettel, revealed to Sky Sports F1, after Sunday’s French Grand Prix, the reason why the team secured a double points finish at Circuit Paul Ricard. During a race which saw intense tyre degradation, Vettel put the team’s success down to the ‘homework’ they had done into the changes to Pirelli's tyre framework – following the tyre blowouts seen last time out in Baku.
It would have taken the most optimistic Aston Martin Racing fan to predict a double points finish for the team. With the former 4-time F1 Drivers’ Champion starting from 12th and his Canadian teammate Lance Stroll back in 19th after a qualifying which did not match the potential of the car beneath him a long race was ahead of them.
Therefore, with such an outlook ahead of the race, that it would be a challenging one, strategy became crucial and that meant making the right choice of tyre compound. While many on the grid chose to start on mediums, Aston Martin Racing took the route of the alternative strategy. The team which saw British Racing Green return to the F1 grid would start on the hard compound believing this reflected the high degradation expected at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Such a move appeared a bold choice but when taken into consideration with the fact that a rain hit Formula 3 race had resulted in previously laid down rubber from two days of on track running being ‘washed away’ – finding grip would be a problem for those on mediums.
"There was more graining but it was also due to the higher running pressures, I believe," Sebastian Vettel explained to Sky Sports F1."The temperatures were not so hot today, to be honest, but the wind made it very tricky and the cars were sliding.
Certainly, the cars running mediums were sliding a lot more than hard compound running cars of which Aston Martin had two of those to their name:
"So we expected it to be a difficult race and it turned out to be on tyres so we did our homework and we got the maximum out of us today."
For many, Sebastian Vettel in a Scuderia Ferrari throughout the 2020 season was a tough sight to see. The German endured a largely torrid time in a season where he knew his race seat was no longer his. Now though, having joined Aston Martin Racing and taken on a new challenge, the former 4-time F1 Drivers’ Champion has achieved three consecutive finishes inside the points.
So, with that in mind, Sky Sports F1 asked Sebastian Vettel if he found Sunday’s French Grand Prix an enjoyable one to recall in his collection:
"Yeah, I don't know. The start was not that good, I think I lost a place and I think I lost a place in the opening corners to Antonio [Giovinazzi] I believe but I got it back and got Esteban [Ocon] so that was good, the first couple of laps."
"We obviously were on a different strategy, we started on the hards which were very difficult to hold onto. The conditions today were tricky. The tyres today, it was difficult for everybody but in the end, we can be very happy with points.”
Despite another finishing position in the points, Sebastian Vettel also revealed that he felt he had the pace and the tyre management to have an even more promising finish to his race but 53 laps were not enough in the end.
"A bit of an anti-climax with the group ahead of me, I was catching but just running out of laps but overall, it is good to have also both cars in the points."
When Sebastian Vettel claimed a podium in the previous race, at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, there were signs that the German was settling back into his rhythm. Now, after Sunday’s race, Sebastian Vettel is into the top 10 of the F1 Drivers’ Championship and appears to be looking more likely to hunt down those in front of him rather than be concerned about any threat from behind.