Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer shares his first impressions of Sebastian Vettel. The German at the same time is said to feel at home with his new team.
It’s Formula 1’s new dream team: Sebastian Vettel (33) and Aston Martin. Social media is overflowing with memes, photos, opinions and enthusiasm. Even as the season has not yet started and Vettel – with a new hairstyle – has only been to the Aston Martin factory once.
Nevertheless the suffering in red at Ferrari is almost forgotten. Aston Martin fans have long since adopted Vettel and Vettel fans in turn have adopted the Aston Martin brand. The first images of a shooting of a commercial last week are eagerly awaited. What has already been leaked out: Vettel is fulfilling his new role as brand ambassador for the comeback of the formerly ailing British sports car manufacturer perfectly.
But the team also re-discovered a very special ability of the driver from Heppenheim: his technical expertise. At Red Bull, Vettel was already considered a technically skilled driver who, together with designer Adrian Newey, was able to tune the car perfectly to his driving style. At Ferrari, however, Vettel’s skills have been neglected in recent years: the focus of development was on Charles Leclerc. The result: a bitchy Ferrari diva that didn’t suit the four-time world champion Vettel at all.
At Aston Martin, such an approach is incomprehensible. As team principal Otmar Szafnauer said in interviews with Sky and RTL: “Funnily enough, almost every driver we’ve had in the car likes a car with a stable rear. We have always pushed to work on that stability to have a car with good balance. We will do everything we can to make sure Sebastian has that!”
The new car is almost ready. Accordingly, the German can’t have much of a hand in it. But according to information from F1-Insider.com, the first driving experience in the simulator was positive – including insights into the potential for improvement. Szafnauer confirms: “Sebastian has already driven in the simulator and given us some feedback.”
And that’s where the engineer in Vettel comes in. “It was great,” the US-American who usually sits at command post of Aston Martin at the pitwall is rather enthusiastic. “Sebastian is everything we expected him to be. He’s a true professional. A four-time world champion and you can see why. He works very hard. He asks questions and has a huge amount of knowledge.”
Knowledge that he is finally able to use again. Szafnauer: “Seb is more motivated than ever. He is very strong. He is very inquisitive. He asks us a lot of questions. He compares how we work and how we do our job here with what he has learned in the past. In the process, he wants to know more and more. He wants to help the team to improve in all aspects. “
Sounds like the “old” Vettel is finally allowed to let off steam again. “He wants to have fun in Formula 1 and fun for him means being competitive and feeling good,” Szafnauer says. “Then he can also race at the level he is capable of.”
F1-Insider.com has learned: Vettel also feels comfortable at Aston Martin and is convinced of the team’s potential after his first factory visit. He has already met his mechanics and engineers during the seat fitting, as well as the management team around technical director Andy Green and Szafnauer himself. The story goes: Vettel was enthusiastic about a “great team”.
How often he will be able to travel to England before the launch at the headquarters in Gaydon at the beginning of March is open due to the Corona restrictions. In the meantime, he communicates with the team via video call and email and prepares for the new season at home in Switzerland with coach Antti.
One thing is certain: The conditions are completely different from the last two years at Ferrari. Team boss Szafnauer: “We make sure that we don’t just give the drivers the car, but also the environment, the tools, everything they need to give their best. For both of them. If we can do those things, I think the points, the podiums and the wins will come naturally.”