Lance Stroll ensured Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team were represented in the top ten in Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, although the Canadian will start only tenth on Sunday.
Stroll said the AMR21 was feeling good around the Bahrain International Circuit despite the team still looking to understand more about the car, especially as they come into 2021 having had probably the third best car of 2020.
The Canadian says starting inside the top ten gives them opportunities on Sunday, particularly if they manage their tyres well and execute a good strategy.
“It was a good fight out there today and it is clear that the midfield has become even closer this year because a lost tenth or two will put you in Q2,” said Stroll. “The AMR21 felt good, but we have got plenty of work ahead to keep improving and to try and push back towards the top end of Q3.
“I am really excited to get going for tomorrow’s race because the first race is always a little bit unpredictable and exciting. We are starting inside the top 10 and with a good start, strong tyre management and well executed strategy, we can target some good points tomorrow.
“We just need to go away tonight, get our heads down, and keep on improving our understanding of the car.”
“I think it is fair to say the result today is disappointing” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was less fortunate in Qualifying, with the German finding himself eliminated in Q1 after a lacklustre first lap and a yellow flag affected second run.
The German, who moved to Aston Martin after six years with Scuderia Ferrari, admitted the result of Qualifying was not what he was hoping for, and he believes there was potential to at least get into Q2, and perhaps Q3 as Stroll managed.
Nikita Mazepin’s spin at turn one and Carlos Sainz Jr. stopping in sector two meant Vettel was twice affected by yellow flags on his final run, and he will be speaking to the stewards before the race about potentially going through the yellow flag zone too quickly.
“I think it is fair to say the result today is disappointing and not what we wanted,” said Vettel. “My first lap in Q1 had quite a bit of margin for improvement, but on my second run there were two yellow flags, which made it impossible to progress to Q2.
“There was a yellow flag at turn one and one later in the lap too. I was just unlucky with my position on the track. On a positive note, the car felt better in qualifying and all the work we have done since testing is taking us in a good direction, so we have the potential to be faster.
“Even though we are not starting where we want to be, it is tomorrow that counts. Our job is to maximise all the opportunities and see what happens.”