Sebastian Vettel was content with his first day of track action as an Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team driver, with the German completing fifty-one laps of the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday morning.
Having moved across from Scuderia Ferrari, Vettel took to the track in Bahrain in the AMR21 and set a best time of 1:33.742, which was good enough for thirteenth overall of the sixteen drivers who set a lap time. However, times were irrelevant, especially when track conditions were seemingly improving later in the day.
Before handing the car over to team-mate Lance Stroll, Vettel was able to put the new Aston Martin through its paces, and although he acknowledges there is plenty of things to learn, he was positive about his day and the potential of the AMR21.
“It was a very productive morning and really the first opportunity we’ve had to truly put the AMR21 through its paces,” said Vettel. “As I expected, there are a lot of new things to learn.
“I’m working with a different power unit compared to the past, which means there are lots of new procedures involved. Then there’s a new steering wheel with all its buttons, and different braking too – so I’m very aware that there is a lot to learn. The important thing is that I know where we can improve.
“It was tricky on track because it was so windy out there; you could see that everyone was fighting for grip. Today wasn’t about lap times, it was about finding a good balance in the car and getting a true read on it while collecting lots of important data, which we managed by running 51 laps in the morning session.
“I am looking forward to going over the data tonight and continuing to make progress with the car. I think we can say it was a good first day for the AMR21.”
“It’s early days to be making judgements on the car” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Stroll drove in the afternoon session and added another forty-six laps to the tally, with the Canadian’s best time of 1:31.782 seeing him end the day as the fourth fastest driver.
Stroll felt it was a good start to the three-day test, which the only significant running the drivers will get between now and the start of the season, which is later this month at the same circuit for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“It was a good start to testing,” said Stroll. “Conditions were really tricky out there and you could feel the effect of the wind on the run down to Turn One, and you could feel the tailwind in certain corners too. I don’t think anybody found it easy out there.
“It’s early days to be making judgements on the car and we have to remember there is a cut in downforce, which you can feel in the car, and there are new tyres too. The important thing is that we made an encouraging start and it felt good to drive the AMR21.
“We spent the majority of today doing aero mapping and collecting plenty of useful data. It’s great to be back in the car and really feeling the energy of the team. It is a new beginning as Aston Martin and I am enjoying working with Sebastian and getting to know how he operates.
“All in all, it’s been a productive session and I definitely enjoyed my day in the AMR21!”