Aston Martin's return to Formula 1 wasn't what fans or the team expected it to be. Their new marquee signing Sebastian Vettel has struggled with the handling of the car. Aston Martin only scored one point at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Lance Stroll hustled his way to P10 but was beaten by AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer has blamed the new 2021 regulations for the team's lack of performance in the car. Racing Point (now branded Aston Martin) caused controversy last year by imitating the design of Mercedes' W10 from 2019. The Aston Martin carries the same low rake design as the reigning world champions, which according to Szafnauer isn't ideal. The new regulations placed by the FIA have affected low-rake cars the hardest.
What are the concerns from Aston Martin?
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer claims his team has been hampered the most by the FIA's new regulations. The Romanian let out his frustrations during a mid-race interview with Sky Sports F1 commentators David Croft and Martin Brundle.
According to Otmar, teams with a high rake philosophy, most notably Red Bull and AlphaTauri, will have a massive advantage. This was visible from the pace shown by Verstappen and Perez in the race. The AlphaTauri's also looked quick. Gasly finished the qualifying session in P5, while Formula 1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda finished the race in P9, taking two points.
“I think the rude awakening happened in qualifying when we realised after analysing the data that the low rake cars were hampered significantly more by the regulation change.”
Aston Martin's concerns are reasonable, seeing that the team were able to challenge for podiums on the same track last season. The team also took a win in the second race at Bahrain (albeit on a different layout) with Sergio Perez. Rumors around the paddock suggest that the FIA's regulations were meant to stop Mercedes' domination and that Aston Martin took collateral damage in the effort.
However, Aston Martin remain upbeat about the situation. Otmar Szafnauer has promised that the team will look at the data and carry out the necessary work to bring new parts as soon as possible to curb this deficit. He said:
“[But] there’s more to come, we haven’t given up on this year and we have things in the tunnel and in R&D [Research and Development] and we’ll start bringing them to the track fairly soon."
Team owner Lawrence Stroll was aiming for regular podiums and wins this season, but the FIA's regulations have been a real blow to the team. It will take time for Aston Martin to recover, and the team could struggle until they find the right solution.