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Aston Martin

Will Aston Martin help Vettel in his pursuit for redemption?

Aston Martin return as a constructor to Formula 1 after over 60 years away from the sport. They green machine are aiming to be at the head of the midfield battle in 2021, beginning with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

Column
To news overview © Aston Martin

Racing Point have been rebranded as Aston Martin for the 2021 Formula 1 season and have high hopes for a strong year. The team have experienced a rollercoaster ride in the last 12 months with controversy over their brake ducts, a car which looked remarkably similar to the 2019 Mercedes and both drivers contracting coronavirus.

Amongst all that, there was drama within the team as Sergio Perez’s three-year contract was torn apart for the arrival of Sebastian Vettel.

Reputation redemption for Vettel?

The four-time world champion is looking to revive his career after finishing down in 13th in the standings. Vettel was outqualified on average over three-quarters of a second behind teammate Charles Leclerc in 2020, a substantial margin.

Don’t forget Vettel used to be almost unstoppable during his Red Bull days in qualifying as he hooked up the perfect lap when it mattered most time and time again. It’s that kind of form which Vettel is hoping to replicate with Aston Martin.

It’s a big year for Vettel in terms of his reputation. He is expected to beat teammate Lance Stroll who has struggled to string together a string of results.

Stroll faces his biggest challenge yet

Stroll shocked the F1 paddock with a stunning lap in wet conditions at last year’s Turkish Grand Prix. It was a stunning drive to take his maiden pole position, a month after contracting COVID-19.

But, his qualifying head to head against former teammate Sergio Perez was poor. The Canadian lost 28-6 over the two seasons they were together and lost out to Sergey Sirotkin at Williams in 2018 despite that season being Sirotkin’s debut campaign in F1.

It suggests Saturdays might be one-sided if Vettel can find his qualifying form of old. This will only boost Vettel’s confidence and momentum has affected the German more than others.

Vettel won nine consecutive Grand Prix with Red Bull in 2013 to win his fourth title and during his time at Ferrari, one crucial mistake when leading the 2018 German Grand Prix led to more errors.

A catalogue of spins in the last three years have plagued Vettel’s reputation and Aston Martin know how important a strong rear end of the car is to get the best out of Vettel.

What to expect from Aston Martin in 2021?

Aston Martin technical director Andrew Green was instantly impressed with Vettel in February.

"He's fitting in really well," Green told RacingNews365.com among others. "He's gelling with his crew and with the team. He's obviously a very, very likeable chap, but he's also incredibly knowledgeable and meticulous about the way he works, and that's exactly why we wanted him involved.

"We're starting to see how we can adapt to his way of working. It is different to the way we worked before, but like I said that's the exact reason why we got him in, to impart some of his knowledge and wisdom on us as a four-times world champion. That's exactly what we need."

However, Vettel had a disappointing pre-season test as reliability issues prevented him from getting out onto the track. He spent most of the Saturday and Sunday morning in the garage due to a gearbox-related issue and boost pressure problem.

The Aston Martin driver completed just 117 laps over the three days in Bahrain, the lowest number of the F1 2021 field.

The Aston Martin driver completed just 117 laps over the three days in Bahrain, the lowest number of the F1 2021 field.

"We still have a lot to learn about the car in terms of setup,” Vettel told Auto Motor Und Sport. "Even if you got through your programme without any problems, you can't learn everything about the new cars and the new tyres in just one and a half days.

“I expect a steep learning curve in the first races. I still have to understand how the car wants to be driven. I basically have to find out the differences between my past and my future."

There seems to be speed in the AMR21 and similarly to Mercedes, they have found it difficult to get into the optimal operating window of the Pirelli rubber.

As Racing Point in 2020, the team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship. Aston Martin face a major challenge to replicate that result this year.

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