Sebastian vettel may have been relieved to escape the calamity of Ferrari’s 2020 Formula 1 season, but it seems his move to Aston Martin isn’t going to bring him back to the front of the grid anytime soon.
This is because the team, who won a victory with Sergio Perez last year, was one of the hardest hit by rule changes during the offseason.
After last year’s controversy, when their car (then called Racing Point) was dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’, it looks like Aston Martin has dropped the pecking order for 2021.
After challenging a podium at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix before Perez suffered an engine failure, the team barely made it into the top 10 this time around.
Lance Stroll qualified 10th and that’s where he finished, while Vettel qualified 18th after being hampered by yellow flags on his final lap. The quadruple world champion ended up at home in 15th place (otherwise known as second-to-last) one lap behind winner Lewis Hamilton.
“I don’t feel at home in the car. A lot of things are fighting against me so that I can’t concentrate on driving,” Vettel told German TV after the race.
“There are a lot of things we need to take care of. Some of the others were two seconds faster.”
Vettel collected five penalty points on his license during a horror weekend. He was penalized with three points, and sent to the back of the grid, for not having slowed down enough for the yellow flags in qualifying, then hit with two more points, and a ten second penalty during the race, after running in the back of Alpine by Esteban Ocon.
“I was trying to reduce to the left, but Esteban was also moving to the left,” Vettel said.
“When I was right behind him I locked the foreheads and hit him straight. Obviously it wasn’t great for our two races.”
If a driver accumulates 12 penalty points over a 12 month period, he is banned for a race. Vettel did not have any points in this race.
More worrying in the long term is the pace of the Aston Martin, which along with Mercedes seems to have suffered the most from rule changes.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer has been quite vocal this weekend saying the changes in the car’s floor dimensions have hurt those who run low rake. Raking a car refers to the practice of rolling the rear at a higher ride height than the front. In particular, the Red Bull, seen from the side, is significantly higher at the rear than at the front.
While all the cars have been slower in qualifying this weekend than they were on the same track just four months ago, it’s the low-rake cars from Mercedes and Aston Martin that have suffered the most, up to one second per lap longer than their rivals.
This has created what appears to be a titanic battle up front between Mercedes and Red Bull, but for Aston Martin the consequences are huge given the already low margins in midfield.
“I’m not happy,” Szafnauer said. “And when I say I’m not happy, I mean I’m not happy for our two great drivers, I’m not happy for the 500 great men and women who designed, built and now drive our new car. , and I am not happy for our sponsors and fans.
“After carefully analyzing the data from the tests and from this weekend, it is clear that the new aviation regulations for 2021 have had a much more damaging impact on cars with a low-rake aero philosophy than cars with an aero philosophy. high rake.
“So Mercedes and we have suffered, while high-rake aero philosophy cars such as Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, and McLaren and Ferrari, have not.
“We can’t change a high-rake aero philosophy car even if we wanted to, and neither did Mercedes, because the suspension on this year’s cars has been homologated.”
Rival team boss Franz Tost said Aston Martin had a lot of catching up to do.
“In reality, the car is not very good,” he told German advertisement Motor und Sport.
“He’s very unstable in the back.”
Timing is everything in auto racing. Lewis Hamilton would have a world title to his name, rather than seven, if he had stayed at McLaren instead of moving to Mercedes in 2013.
Now it looks like Vettel, having jumped out of the pan at Ferrari, landed in the Aston Martin fire.
For a daily dose of the best of the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter in Click here!