Otmar Szafnauer admitted it was pleasing to see Sebastian Vettel finally begin to understand the AMR21 after the German made it into Q3 for the first time in fifteen races.
Vettel had failed to make it through to the top ten shootout in every race since the British Grand Prix last August, but he achieved the feat in Qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix on Saturday, although he was unable to better tenth on the grid.
Nevertheless, Szafnauer, the Team Principal and CEO of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team, was pleased to see the German getting to grips with the AMR21 and finding himself inside Q3.
“It was great to see Sebastian getting to grips with the AMR21 – literally – over the twists, turns, uphills and downhills of Portimão this afternoon,” said Szafnauer.
“We made a few set-up changes prior to qualifying, and it seemed they worked well, because he was ‘on it’ throughout Q1 and Q2. In Q3, he was not as competitive, ending up P10.”
Szafnauer was disappointed that the second Aston Martin of Lance Stroll was compromised by traffic during Q1, which caused the Canadian to be eliminated at the first hurdle of Qualifying.
Stroll will start down in seventeenth but Szafnauer says he has been driving well so far in 2021 and should be aiming to attack and fight for points on Sunday afternoon.
“Lance was badly affected by traffic in Q1, and the tricky, windy conditions did not help him either; as a result, he just failed to get through to Q2,” said Szafnauer.
“But he has been driving extremely well so far this year, he says he will be striving to score points tomorrow, and we think that is a legitimate ambition despite his P17 grid slot.”