Can Aston Martin beat Ferrari and McLaren back in Formula One in the first season? That is the goal, says team manager Otmar Szafnauer in an exclusive interview before the 2021 season with Sky Sports; See the full interview below
By Matt Morlidge
Last updated: 10/02/21 18:27
Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer says the newly renamed team is aiming for a coveted third place in the championship this season, but is wary of their “formidable” rivals – as well as 2021’s “significant” car changes.
After changing from Racing Point to Aston Martin – marking the return of the famous British car brand to the F1 network for the first time in 61 years – the team has high ambitions, especially after signing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to partner Lance Stroll.
Szafnauer has previously revealed intentions to become a “top team”, but in their first season as Aston Martin, the Silverstone kit is aiming for an achievement they missed in 2020 – third place and F1’s top ‘midfield’ runner.
“That will be the goal for us,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports’ Craig Slater in an exclusive interview. “But I do not think it will be easy – we have some formidable competitors there.”
Aston Martin’s team director pointed out two major threats in particular; historically F1’s most successful team. One that is rebuilding after a far below par season, and another that drove Racing Point to third at 2020’s final race.
“Ferrari will definitely work hard in the winter to do better than they did last year,” Szafnauer added. “McLaren gets a new one [Mercedes] engine, the same as we have and I’m sure they did it because of competitiveness.
“And there’s also some driver movements, so we’ll see how it all pans out. So there are some differences.”
Szafnauer also said that the changes in 2021 to the car – which are not as drastic as previous seasons, but which still lead to major re-designs – could make a big difference to the pick order.
“They took big lumps off the floor for us to lose downforce, and depending on how the teams clawed that downforce back, it has a big impact.”
How much will the Aston Martin car be with Racing Point?
Racing Point made headlines last season and was even penalized for designing their 2020 car – and more specifically brake ducts – all in the same way as the 2019 Mercedes, F1 world champions and their engine suppliers.
Szafnauer said about Aston Martin’s 2021 car: “From a philosophical point of view, to drive a low-rake car that remains the same.
“[But there are] significant aerodynamic changes – and because of that we had to redevelop it all. “
He also revealed that the team had designed a new chassis despite the 2020 transfer.
“This is the first time that a transfer car has had many of its parts new,” he said. “Even though the philosophy is transfer, we still want a lot of new parts on the car, a lot of aerodynamic development and even a new chassis for us too.
“Although the car looks like last year, it is predominantly new.”
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