Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel’s “pretty remarkable” feedback has made Aston Martin’s debriefs more detailed and longer, team boss Otmar Szafnauer has revealed.
Vettel joined the Aston Martin team for 2021 after losing his Ferrari drive, with the intention of leading its new era and helping it grow into a world championship-winning operation.
What started out as Jordan 30 years ago has spent almost its entire life as a midfield F1 team, with peaks as high as winning races and lows like the spell as a backmarker at the end of the Jordan era and then into the Midland/Spyker years.
It is now in the process of expanding significantly under the ownership of a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, whose investment in Aston Martin allowed the F1 team to rebrand as the famous car manufacturer’s works entry.
Vettel is considered a key part of that process particularly on the sporting side, given his knowledge of teams like Red Bull and Ferrari.
Asked by The Race to explain a recent comment in which he indicated Aston Martin’s debriefs had been changed by Vettel’s arrival, team principal and CEO Szafnauer said: “Well, they’re more detailed than they used to be before, and because of the detail they are definitely longer.
“We can go on forever, but we’ve got to make sure that we focus on the first order so maybe some second order stuff [is less of a priority].
“But his recollection of the lap is pretty remarkable. He remembers every little detail of every little corner.
“It’s probably the most detail that I’ve heard from a driver so in that regard we do get a little bit more detail from Seb than we have in the past with the drivers.
“Also, every little aspect of the car, the powertrain, ergonomics – all that stuff he brings up and we work on fixing it.”
Vettel has long been known as a detail-oriented driver who has also gone to great lengths to acclimatise to a new team.
His detailed debriefs were also a feature in his Red Bull pomp, although his former team boss Christian Horner said last year that was not necessarily to the team’s benefit and joked the debriefs would “take about two hours”.
“The detail he used to go into in recounting every stage of the race, every stage of the tyre, it was way too much information for us to be able to even digest,” Horner said on a Heineken podcast hosted by another of his former drivers David Coulthard.
“But it was a useful exercise for him to go through, recounting what could have been done better.
“Mark [Webber, Vettel’s old Red Bull team-mate] would take about 15 minutes to do the whole race on the other side of the table. Different styles for different people.”
Vettel’s adjustment to life at Aston Martin is on an upward trajectory after a difficult start to the season that was initially hampered by pre-season unreliability limiting Vettel’s track time in a very different car to what he was used to from Ferrari.
Once the season started it also became clear Aston Martin was struggling to get its AMR21 working as well as some of its midfield rivals’ cars, and Vettel was point-less after the first four races.
But he ended that run in style with a fine drive to fifth in the Monaco Grand Prix and followed that up with a shock podium in Azerbaijan, where he finished second after a chaotic end to the race.
“He’s getting used to the car, he’s getting used to the team more,” said Szafnauer.
“It was a probably a circuit that favoured us a little bit. The circumstances of the race did help.
“But the pace was definitely there. We overtook the polesitter on track. We have unlocked a little bit of the pace of the car at a circuit that is like Baku with those characteristics.”
Vettel and Aston Martin’s bid to continue that form on a conventional track at Paul Ricard in this weekend’s French Grand Prix started in difficult fashion in Friday practice.
He was 15th in both practice sessions, spinning and nudging a barrier after being caught out by the wind in FP1 and then making a mistake on his qualifying simulation in FP2.
Szafnauer said it was “important” to keep the team’s recent momentum going but admitted “we didn’t start off as good as we could have here”.
“We haven’t found the right balance yet, neither driver have, their laps were messy,” he said.
“And when the balance isn’t quite there, you anticipate messy laps too. So it’s something that feeds on itself.
“Once you get the balance right the driver feels more confident, he’ll drive better and get a good lap in.”