Otmar Szafnauer says that despite the free practice sessions on Fridays being shorter in 2021 compared to in previous years, the aims for everyone are still the same.
The Team Principal and CEO of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team saw both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll out on track at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday, the first time Aston Martin have been present in Formula 1 since the 1960s.
Free practice sessions on Friday have both been reduced by half an hour, leaving just two hours of running compared to three of recent years. It means teams have less time to work through their programmes and prepare themselves for the rest of the weekend.
Szafnauer says the team made progress with their performance runs and race simulations on Friday, but there is still doubt to just where Aston Martin sit compared to their rivals heading into the first race of the year.
“The practice sessions are shorter for everyone this year, but the goals are the same,” said Szafnauer. “It’s about making sure you’re able to complete your performance runs and race simulations.
“We made progress with both of those objectives, collected a large amount of information and have learned more about the car and its characteristics. We’ve made progress since we were here for testing, but the conditions were quite windy in the second session, and it’s still not easy to have a clear picture of where we sit in the pecking order just yet.”
Szafnauer says it is important for Aston Martin to get Vettel more comfortable behind the wheel of the AMR21 to allow the German to push harder, and the plan is to ensure he has a lot of track time on Saturday prior to qualifying.
The team will also be looking to find time on shorter runs, with their pace lacking compared to their rivals at this stage of the weekend.
“On Sebastian’s side, he had a disrupted test, so it was about getting him as much track time as possible today,” said Szafnauer. “The more comfortable he is with the car, the more he can push. For Lance, it was a productive day and plenty of laps completed as we head into the weekend.
“We still need to improve our pace over a single lap and that’s one of the priorities as we prepare for final practice and qualifying tomorrow.”