Aston Martin's team principal Otmar Szafnauer has been quite vocal about the new aero regulations for the 2021 season. He believes the changes have hindered Aston Martin the most. The shortened wheelbase affected cars with a low-rake philosophy the hardest. According to Szafnauer, the team was losing almost a second per lap in Bahrain because of the regulations.
The Silverstone-based side did not have the best start to their 2021 season in Bahrain. Aston Martin only scored one solitary point with Lance Stroll finishing in P10, while Sebastian Vettel had an incident-packed weekend and finished in P15.
In an interview with Formula1.com, Otmar Szafnauer said the team needs to look at Mercedes' solution for coping with the lost downforce. Mercedes also employs a low-rake concept on their cars and were similarly affected by the new regulations imposed by the FIA.
"We have the same powertrain, the same gearbox, same rear suspension so if they are able to do some of those lap times, we should be able to get close – so that gives us some hope.”
Mercedes won the Bahrain Grand Prix despite having a slower car than Red Bull. It was quite evident from the pre-season test and qualifying session in Bahrain that Mercedes would struggle to catch Red Bull.
Otmar said it was inspiring for him and Aston Martin to see Mercedes win, even though they had a clear disadvantage against a vastly superior Red Bull.
Aston Martin could struggle in the midfield this season
However, Szafnauer suggests that Aston Martin might struggle to be on par with the competitive Formula 1 midfield this season. When asked about the competition in the midfield, Szafnauer said:
“I mean if you look back to see where Ferrari were three months ago and where they are now to Mercedes – just have a look at the lap times and that will give you a picture.”
Aston Martin must find the right balance between developing their 2021 car, and channeling resources for the new regulations in 2022. Szafnauer claimed that Aston Martin have not written off the 2021 season just yet:
“The trade-off has to be, how much more can we gain this year at what expense for next year and that is really, really hard to predict. So at this time we’re going to keep going in parallel.”