Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer insists it’s too early to judge Sebastian Vettel’s performances after only one race, but is confident the German will turn his form around.
Vettel’s debut appearance for the Silverstone-based outfit proved a struggle that began with a shock elimination in Q1 after having his lap ruined by yellow flags.
The four-time world champion qualified 18th but received a five-place grid penalty for not slowing sufficiently when the yellow flags were waved, resulting in him starting from the back of the grid.
Despite an impressive opening lap that saw him gain six places, Vettel was unable to fight his way through towards the points with his race hampered by a collision with Esteban Ocon.
While Vettel walked away from Bahrain discontent with his performance, Szafnauer defended his driver’s race, admitting he is yet to feel comfortable in the AMR21 after a lack of milage in pre-season testing,
The car he’s driving now is totally different from what he drove before, from car characteristics, power train characteristics, a lot of things,” Szafnauer said, as quoted by Motorsport Week.
“He only really felt happy with the car, getting to grips with it, making set-up changes, in qualifying [but then] he had the yellow flags.
“He didn’t do a lot of laps in winter testing, we only had three days and he had to share those days with lance and he seemed to have all the problems.
“So I’m still confident we’ll get him there.”
Vettel’s display at the Bahrain Grand Prix has once again called into question whether he will be able to rediscover his mojo, having claimed just one podium finish since the beginning of 2020.
Szafnauer believes Vettel should not be written off after just one race, insisting there was some positives to take away from the season opener.
“I think it’s very, very early to say that,” Szafnauer said. “We only have one data point, one race, yeah it wasn’t the best race but if you look at the positives, he had to start last and he was running in the top ten for a while.
“I had to leave the debrief [early] so I don’t know what his feedback was, but watching from the pit wall and looking at his lap times, his lap times were not that dissimilar to Lance’s, who’s been here for a while and knows the car well, and ended up finishing in a relatively decent position and at times was pretty competitive on mediums and softs and so was Seb. So it’s way too early to say that.”