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Vettel just needs 'a bit of love', says Szafnauer

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel
Modified 11 Sep 2020, 21:22 IST

Sebastian Vettel needs "a little bit of love" and Aston Martin are ready with a warm embrace, says team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

It was confirmed this week that the four-time Formula One world champion will replace Sergio Perez when Racing Point are rebranded as Aston Martin for the 2021 season, after Vettel departs Ferrari.

The German is enduring an unhappy season having scored just 16 points compared to Charles Leclerc's 45 for the struggling giants.

But Szafnauer is confident his team are signing a driver in the "prime of his career" who will take Aston Martin to the next level.

"I don't think he's forgotten how to drive," said Szafnauer. "We all need a little bit of love sometimes, and to drive on your very edge all the time, it is a mental exercise and if your mind isn't quite in it, then things like that happen.

"It will be our job to put our arms around him and show him what this team is about and I think he will flourish with us.

"He's 33 years old, he's still in the prime of his career, he's got a vast amount of experience, he's still highly motivated to do well, he works really hard and we believe with our team and the level that we want to get to, Seb's a perfect fit for that, and I'm confident that he'll race well."

Vettel had another difficult day on Friday as the Tuscan Grand Prix weekend at Mugello began with a pair of practice sessions.


After posting only the 13th fastest time in FP1, a session in which Leclerc was third, Vettel was 12th in FP2 – albeit during the earlier run the two Ferrari drivers were running vastly different programmes.

Perhaps more worryingly for Vettel was the fact his power unit cut out late in FP2, a session in which he and Leclerc – who was 10th fastest – both suffered spins at the Correntaio corner.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was in flying form, posting the quickest time in each session, with team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton fourth and second.

Max Verstappen was second quickest in FP1, while the second session was briefly red-flagged when McLaren's Lando Norris crashed at Turn 3, wiping off his front wing just as drivers were beginning their qualifying simulations.

Published 11 Sep 2020, 21:22 IST
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