Aston Martin is having a resurgence thanks to its results from the last few races, especially those of Sebastian Vettel. Having had very high expectations before the start of the season, it became clear that Aston Martin was neither ready nor capable to fight with McLaren or Ferrari for third place in the constructors' championship, the British team have been fighting against teams like Alpine and Alpha Tauri for fifth or sixth place in the championship. Today the first two free practices of the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring have concluded, later, Otmar Szafnauer, who serves as the Aston Martin team principal, spoke to MotorLat - and other media - about different topics. These were the most important statements.
Lately there has been talk that some teams, including Aston Martin, could miss one or more free practice sessions at Silverstone, where the first sprint race will take place. This is why Szafnauer commented: “We have 800 kilometres of life on our clutch before it needs to be reshimed. In the past, we would’ve reshimed it after FP2, so Friday night and before Saturday. Ran about 300 [km] and then we would do Saturday and Sunday. But now, because once you’ve done qualifying you’re in parc fermé, we could not do that anymore. So the only time we could do it is between FP1 and FP2 but there isn’t enough time, because that’s a gearbox-off job and it takes hours. Some teams designed their clutch in order to race for the thousand kilometres, not 800 or 900.”
If we look in the past, in the first 4 races of the season, Aston Martin got only 5 points, while in the next 4 they got a total of 39. Otmar described that there are several reasons for this drastic improvement in their performance. “If you remember back, we didn’t have too much running in winter testing, we had too many reliability issues, some driver changes as well; Sebastian [Vettel] is getting more used to the car, started scoring some points, some of the circuits that we went to also suited us a little bit better and we’ve upgraded the car. So I think it’s a combination of all those things.”
Regarding the two free practice sessions that took place this Friday, Otmar said that they had decent results but that they still have to work on some mishaps they had, such as track exits. “I think we made progress between FP1 and FP2. FP1 was not very smooth. Lance went off twice, Sebastian went off once. We worked on the car balance to get the drivers more comfortable.”
“Sebastian is in his 99% or plus. I think there is more to come from Seb but he feels very comfortable and he’s working well with the team, and we’re working hard to finding more performance out of the car.”
MotorLat asked the Aston Martin team principal that thanks to the new infrastructure improvements, which was announced a few days ago, such as a new wind tunnel and even a new factory, what would his approach be going into the 2022 season knowing which will have all these new implementations, he commented: “Those upgrades will be post the 2022 season. So, for the ‘22 season we will be using the facilities that we have now. We have increased the manufacture capability, so that’s grown. The wind tunnel takes 2+ years to build and our factory another year and a half. So, in the meantime, we’ll be using the infrastructure that we have. We’ve also hired some people, some have started already, some will start soon and we have grown since our racing point days by 150 people.”
Finally, MotorLat also asked Otmar what the period of time or for both drivers the appropriate race would be to find themselves fighting to be best of the rest and to maximize the pace of the car at 100%, Otmar answered us: “We will continue to upgrade the car to make it better, and we’ll be learning as we go forward. We’re getting new tyres in Silverstone too, we’re going to have to learn from them. But pretty soon I hope to get to the best that we are going to be and keep fighting for points. So in the next couple of races.”