Reliability throughout testing this year was admirable to say the least, but problems still afflicted teams’ running schedule during the weekend – most notably Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team.
In their first pre-season test as the revamped historic outfit, Formula 1’s latest challengers Aston Martin suffered a number of minor blips that staggered their programme over the course of the three days, ranging from minor setup issues to more severe gearbox troubles that warranted the use of the infamous secretive garage screens.
Still, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer says the test helped the team ‘learn a huge amount despite a few challenges’. The commendable 314 lap tally set by the team certainly backs Szafnauer’s claim, however a number of teams including Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and Scuderia AlphaTauri did manage to break the 400 barrier.
“We lost a bit of track time with some technical issues over the weekend, especially for Sebastian yesterday, but that’s one of the reasons we go testing.” Said Otmar.
“A pretty busy week where we learned a huge amount despite a few challenges here and there – including a sandstorm on Friday. Between them, Lance and Sebastian covered a total of 314 laps this week and we’ve now got a vast amount of data to digest before we come back here for the race. One of the main tasks this week was to continue helping Sebastian settle into the team and we’ve made a lot of progress already.
“Lance was able to conduct our programme as planned this morning, gaining some useful data on the long runs, race simulations and shorter runs too. It leaves us well placed to come back here for the race later this month.”
Sebastian Vettel: “This test has helped me improve as a driver”
For Sebastian Vettel, this new 2021 championship represents a fresh start in his F1 career. After a dismal 2020 with Scuderia Ferrari, he’s looking to move forward with a clean slate – hence the move to Aston.
His test didn’t exactly go swimmingly, with a number of problems in his Mercedes gearbox and a boost pressure issue on the final day interrupting his plans. Yet, the four-time-champion says the test was ‘very useful’ in the end.
“We got plenty of laps on the board, despite an early finish [caused by a loss of boost pressure]. Lance did a good amount of laps too, so there’s a lot of data for us to work with.
“My running today was very useful and the track conditions were better, so that was a big help in understanding this car. This test has definitely helped me learn where I can improve as a driver with the car and where the team can improve the AMR21 too. It’s been a good learning curve and I’m excited to keep progressing with the car. I’m looking forward to racing here in Bahrain in two weeks.”
Stroll ‘very happy’ with productive test
Kicking off his fifth season at the pinnacle of motorsport, Canadian Lance Stroll says he feels ‘very positive’ about his pre-season test. Contrary to his team-mate, Stroll did not appear to fall victim to many mechanical problems, and thus was able to complete a faultless weekend of running which he explained ‘helped to understand the car.’
“We ran to our programme and collected lots of useful data by doing race simulations and long runs.” Said Stroll.
We completed our job list for the day, which is a really good way to end the test after we lost out on a bit of running yesterday. We’ve got plenty of data to go over now to improve our understanding of the car, so that’s a nice position to be in – especially considering there were only three days of testing this year. I’m looking forward to starting the season here in Bahrain. We can go away now and make more improvements before we come back for the race.”
As his father Lawrence is now the majority stakeholder in the Aston Martin marque, young Lance will be looking to deliver a year of strong and consistent results so as to save some presumably awkward family conversations.