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Mercedes performance recovery gives Aston Martin “some hope”, says Szafnauer

Sebastian Vettel competing with Aston Martin at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix. Credits: Reddit.

Otmar Szafnauer says that they will observe Mercedes’ recovery from performance losses due to the 2021 aerodynamic regulation changes and will gain insight into turning their own season around as a result.

A multitude of teams were negatively impacted by the changes to the aerodynamic rules this year, Aston Martin and reigning champions Mercedes being two that were hit the hardest. Over the off-season, Mercedes seemingly lost their dominant edge over Red Bull, unable to match their pace in pre-season testing but only barely managing to hold them off for a first race victory of the year. Meanwhile, Aston Martin, the rebranded Racing Point team that arguably suffered the most from this regulation change, just cracked the top 10 at Bahrain, taking a single point home from the opening race of the season after also encountering pre-season challenges.

While the first round of the year delivered a bleak result to the Aston Martin crew, team principal Otmar Szafnauer is hopeful that the rebranded marque can overcome their early issues, just as the Mercedes squad recovered from theirs’ to beat out Red Bull. He thinks that observing Mercedes’ performance across the days of testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix could assist them with their own losses, but it won’t be easy given the increasingly quick midfield this season is already seeing.

“I think for sure we have to look and see what type of lap times they are able to do,” said Szafnauer. “We have the same powertrain, the same gearbox, same rear suspension so if they are able to do some of those lap times, we should be able to get close – so that gives us some hope.”

“I think a lot of the teams are a lot closer to Mercedes this year than they were last year, including Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari,” he remarked, understanding the very competitive nature of the midfield this season. “I mean if you look back to see where Ferrari were three months ago and where they are now to Mercedes – just have a look at the lap times and that will give you a picture.”

Szafnauer was also questioned about when Aston Martin would be abandoning developments for the 2021 car and rather focusing on preparation for 2022, to which he responded with: “Well that is a really good question and if I knew I would tell you but I don’t know unfortunately.

“The trade-off has to be, how much more can we gain this year at what expense for next year and that is really, really hard to predict. So at this time we’re going to keep going in parallel.”

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