McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl thinks Sebastian Vettel should be spared too much pity because of the hugely successful career he has enjoyed.
Vettel, a four-time consecutive World Champion with Red Bull from 2010-13, failed to add to those titles in six years at Ferrari, whom he left after a poor campaign last year.
The German is now with Aston Martin and there are concerns about what his debut campaign for them may hold, given pre-season testing in Bahrain did not go smoothly for the team and Vettel in particular.
That will not exactly have been bad news for McLaren, who came out on top in a tussle for third position in last year’s Constructors’ World Championship with Racing Point, as Aston Martin were then known.
Ralf Schumacher has already expressed his fears for the latest stage in Vettel’s career, saying he feels “a little sorry” for his fellow German and that: “Poor Sebastian is in a completely new car and is already saying the steering feels different and he is not happy. And then he is also deprived of the opportunity to adjust to it.”
But despite also being a fellow countryman, Seidl, as a rival, does not share Schumacher’s sentiments regarding the situation the 33-year-old driver finds himself in.
“You don’t have to feel sorry for Sebastian,” Seidl told RTL. “He’s a four-time World Champion and very experienced.
“I think he can put up with the bad luck he probably had because of his experience.
“I assume Aston Martin will be very competitive with Sebastian from the first race and will be a tough opponent for us.”
Nevertheless, Seidl believes both teams will again be challenging for third position at best, expecting Mercedes and Red Bull to have the title battle between them even though pre-season testing indicated some of the other constructors might have made significant gains.
“I believe Red Bull and Mercedes will settle the matter at the very front,” said Seidl, whose McLaren team are looking forward to seeing what impact Daniel Ricciardo can make following his arrival alongside Lando Norris.
“It will be very close behind. I hope we can fight for third place between us, Ferrari, Alpine, AlphaTauri and Aston Martin, while Alfa Romeo have done a good job over the winter. It will be an extremely tight and extremely exciting midfield.”