Aston Martin currently occupies sixth place in the constructors’ standings, four points behind a surprising AlphaTauri in fifth. However, the prospects and ambitions for the future of the English team go beyond those that the championship position might suggest. In fact, the team is experiencing a season of technical difficulties, with the overseas single-seaters that have suffered most from the recent aerodynamic restrictions at the bottom and diffuser due to the design approach with a low rake angle, i.e. with a reduced forward inclination. of the car body.
On the other hand, in the last decade the team has consistently shown that it knows how to capitalize on its potential to the maximum, with the team that under the different properties, from Force India to Racing Point, has constantly played a leading role in the center-group. The result of the fourth place among the constructors conquered in the two-year period 2016-2017 was repeated last season, when the team saw the world podium fade only in the last race in Abu Dhabi. However, 2020 was the year of the first Formula 1 victory, conquered by Sergio Perez in the daring Sakhir Grand Prix after falling to the last place during the first lap.
Force India first and Racing Point later have shown that they have a well-structured staff capable of achieving important goals in relation to the limited resources available. Furthermore, although the 2020 car was born to follow the shapes of the victorious Mercedes W10 of 2019, in the two seasons to come the team has proved its identity, developing and creatively evolving a project whose starting point was instead of a mold. different. The arrival of Aston Martin and the injection of new capital will further boost the team’s prices for the years to come, whose great ambitions are reflected in the reorganization work that includes the construction of the new factory equipped with an updated wind tunnel and the arrival of key technicians from Red Bull.
Arm wrestling Red Bull-Aston Martin on Fallows gardening
On the occasion of the Austrian Grand Prix, FormulaPassion had the opportunity to interview exclusively Otmar Szafnauer, Aston Martin Team Principal. The top of the British team touched on various topics, from the upcoming ones such as the debut of the Sprint Race to the characteristics of the next generation of single-seaters, passing through the alternation of Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel.
In the constructors’ standings, Aston Martin occupies the sixth position after finishing 2020 in fourth place. Did you expect to be more competitive this season, looking at the results at last season’s final?
“At the end of last year we were very competitive, we even won a race from the last position. For this season we expected to be on the same trajectory as the cars could not be changed too much due to the token development system. Unfortunately, the FIA made some unilateral safety changes and this changed the aerodynamics. Having a car with a low rake angle, this has compromised our competitiveness more than the high rake single-seaters. […] We were unable to resolve these issues, possibly due to freezing of the rear suspension. We will never have the opportunity to do so, but we are working hard to regain part of our competitiveness ”.
Speaking of unilateral changes, the new rear Pirellis with greater stiffness could make their debut at Silverstone. Do you think they could affect the hierarchies, perhaps influencing the aerodynamics of the speaker?
“They could affect performance. We saw it in 2013 when we had a very performing car and even then the tires changed around the Silverstone period, with the result that our competitiveness deteriorated. My theory is that it is possible that something similar could happen, but you never know. […] There may be opportunities or risks, as with any change. “
The debut of sprint races will also take place at Silverstone, which seems to be causing you some reliability problems with the clutch. What can you tell us about it?
“Our clutch is designed to last 800 kilometers before being replaced. Even with the arrival of sprint races, the mileage covered in a weekend is almost the same. In the past, however, after FP1 and FP2, during which we cover about 300 km, we changed the clutch, so that the next 600 km were not a problem, since it is designed to cover more. With the sprint race, however, the closed park begins on Friday and we do not have time to do this, which usually took place on Friday evening. There will not be enough time between the end of FP1 and the start of the session on Friday afternoon, which will be qualifying with the sprint race then on Saturday. The problem is this, but it seems that we have managed to find a way around it ”.
Moving on to 2022, the Ferrari drivers declared that they have already tested the new car in the simulator, as opposed to Verstappen or Ricciardo for example. What is your current stage?
“It’s hard to say where everyone is right now. We are currently working a lot on 2022. Most of our resources are concentrated on next year, not 2021 ”.
Do you think there is enough freedom in the new technical regulation to be able to see a differentiation between the solutions of the different single-seaters?
“I think there is less technical freedom than before. I don’t know if there will be a differentiation between the cars, this will happen if there are holes in the regulation that the teams will exploit in a different way. However, if there are no gray areas, the differences between the cars will be less marked than now ”.
Generally speaking, what could be the lap times of the new cars compared to the current ones?
“I think the cars for next season have a different aerodynamic philosophy. I think on some circuits they will be significantly slower and on others they will be on the same pace or marginally faster. It all depends on which track is being analyzed, but on some they will be between two and two and a half seconds slower, while on others not so much.“.
Closing with another topic, what did the team lose with the departure of Perez and what did you find instead with the arrival of Vettel?
“With the departure of Checo we have lost continuity from one year to the next and his sense of humor, as well as a team man who runs for the team. With Sebastian, on the other hand, we have gained an enormous amount of knowledge on how to win races and championships, with the desire to do everything possible and work hard for every increase in performance. He is also a good guy, one of the best in the paddock. […] Vettel provides excellent feedback, extremely detailed, making an examination of curve in curve and also between the different phases of the same curve. He is very good at this ”.