Sebastian Vettel had a debut to forget in last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. The four-time world champion struggled to adapt to his new Aston Martin AMR-21. This comes as no shock since the German racked up the least amount of laps during the pre-season test.
After coming into the first race of the 2021 Formula 1 season under-prepared, Vettel's race and qualifying performance revealed the extent of the German's struggles. The four-time world champion had an incident-packed race weekend. Vettel was first found guilty of ignoring yellow flags in qualifying which gave him a grid penalty. He was then involved in a collision with Esteban Ocon during the race, for which he was given a 10-second time penalty.
Despite Vettel's disastrous start, Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer retains full confidence in the German. The Romanian believes in the four-time world champion's ability to get out of the downward spiral he finds himself in.
Sebastian Vettel will get over his issues: Szafnauer
In an interview with formula1.com, Szafnauer said that despite being outside the points for most of the race, Vettel showed enough pace for the team to remain optimistic for the rest of the season. Vettel matched teammate Lance Stroll's lap times for the majority of the race.
Speaking about Vettel's race-pace, Otmar said:
"Watching from the pit wall, looking at his lap times, they were not too dissimilar to Lance, who’s been driving here a while and knows us well, knows the car well and ended up finishing in a pretty decent position."
Otmar Szafnauer wants to look at the positives from Vettel's debut at Aston Martin. The Romanian team principal was happy to see Vettel fighting for points in the early stages of the race, despite starting from the back of the grid. He maintains that it is too early to judge Vettel's Aston Martin career.
Szafnauer believes that the German is still learning the characteristics of his new car, and deserves patience after spending six seasons at Ferrari:
“The car he’s driving now is totally different to the one he drove before, from car characteristics, powertrain, a lot of things. He only really felt happy with the car, getting to grips with knowing it and making set-up changes that suit him, in qualifying when he had the yellow flags. So I’m still confident we’ll get Seb there."