Otmar Szafnauer says there were mixed emotions for the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team to take away from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel’s podium finish being overshadowed by the high-speed crash of Lance Stroll after the Canadian’s tyre failure.
Stroll was pitched into the wall on the start and finish straight after a rear tyre blowout, ending his chance of points and causing a mid-race safety car. He was lucky to escape unharmed such was the speed of the crash.
However, where there was disappointment on one side of the garage, there was delight on the other as Vettel climbed from eleventh on the grid to finish second to give Aston Martin their first ever podium in Formula 1.
Vettel, with confidence after scoring points for the first time in 2021 two weeks ago in Monaco, drove superbly to make his strategy work to his advantage, with the German being able to capitalise on the late retirement of Max Verstappen to move up into the top three and then on the mistake by Lewis Hamilton on the late-race restart to take second.
“Lance suffered a DNF through no fault of his own, having made very impressive progress in the early laps,” said Szafnauer, the Team Principal and CEO of Aston Martin.
“He was soon running in the points, making the overcut strategy work well, and was driving superbly on hard tyres when it all came to an end for him in a spectacular way on lap 31. We are investigating the cause of the accident, together with Pirelli.
“Sebastian also drove extremely well, making up two places on lap one, running a long stint on soft tyres and thereby jumping [Yuki] Tsunoda during the pit stops, and holding seventh place at the halfway point.
“Then, when Lance was very sadly eliminated, Sebastian moved up to sixth. He then nailed the Safety Car restart, duly passing Charles [Leclerc] for fifth, following that by a great move on Pierre [Gasly] to take fourth.
“When Max [Verstappen] retired, that became third, then second when Lewis [Hamilton] overshot Turn One from the second standing start: a brilliant result for everyone in our team and the first ever podium for Aston Martin in World Championship Formula 1 history.”
Szafnauer says the pace shown by both Vettel and Stroll in Azerbaijan proves that Aston Martin have the pace to compete at the front of the midfield battle this season, and he hopes this kind of form and performance continues.
“In summary, then, both Lance and Sebastian showed today that we have the race pace to compete at the very front of the midfield, or better, and that is what both of them will be aiming to do as the rest of the season unfolds,” concluded Szafnauer.