Otmar Szafnauer has set third position in the World Championship as Aston Martin’s minimum target for their first season back in F1.
Last year, Racing Point would have finished third in the constructors’ standings but for being deducted 15 points as part of their punishment having been found guilty of copying parts of the 2019 Mercedes car.
In addition, they were hindered by both of their drivers – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll – having to miss races due to illness and engine failures that caused the Mexican to retire from two of the last three grands prix, including when on course for a podium finish in Bahrain.
But as Sebastian Vettel joins Lance Stroll in the driver line-up, team principal Szafnauer believes Aston Martin can finish ahead of McLaren this time – and hopefully get closer to top two Mercedes and Red Bull.
“Last year we did set our sights on third all season,” said Szafnauer during an interview with RTL. “Maybe McLaren can point to some bad luck they had, but I don’t think it was anywhere near the level we had.
“We should have been third. So this year it makes sense for us to focus on, and target, third place again.”
Not more? “Well, let’s see how we go. Second would be great. If we can take the fight to Red Bull and Mercedes, that would be great too.”
— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) February 4, 2021
The key to realising that aim will be teamwork among the Aston Martin drivers, according to Szafnauer, who expects Vettel and Stroll to dovetail just as Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon did in the recent past for Racing Point.
“The thing I liked the most about our drivers in the past is that they worked really well together and I expect Lance and Seb to do the same – be team-mates first and then competitors against each other second,” said the Romania-born American.
“They will learn from each other and that will drive the team forward.”
On Vettel specifically, Szafnauer added: “We operate differently here and treat our drivers differently than the places he has come from.
“For sure, we will make racing fun for him again, which is what he wanted. I’m very confident we will get him to his best level he can be.
“I think he will prove to the world that in the right environment, with the right motivation and the fun in racing coming back, he will do a great job.”