Dr Helmut Marko has reiterated that, in his opinion, Sebastian Vettel should have taken a year away from Formula 1 after his time at Ferrari came to an end.
A move to Aston Martin represented a fresh start for the four-time World Champion after a miserable, difficult final campaign with Ferrari where he knew before the season had even started that his contract would not be renewed.
But, so far, Vettel has experienced somewhat of a Ferrari hangover with mechanical issues severely limiting track time in his new AMR21 car during pre-season testing and the difficulties continued at the first race of the 2021 season in Bahrain.
Vettel was sent to the back of the grid after failing to respect yellow flags in Q1 following Nikita Mazepin’s spin in the Haas and then, on race day, another mistake in wheel-to-wheel combat – this time with Esteban Ocon – ensured he would finish a rather lowly P15 on his Aston Martin debut.
Vettel’s difficult start to the 2021 season has done nothing to shorten the column inches being written about him and, in a wide-ranging interview with Formule1.de, his ex-boss was asked for his take on the continuing situation with the former Red Bull star.
“I’ve told you my thoughts on this before, he had to take a year off and ask himself what he wanted,” Marko said.
“Then next year he might have a lot of opportunities in Formula 1. He didn’t do that.
“Now he’s in Aston Martin and they have a very similar car to Mercedes and so they are having the same problems as Mercedes too. His first race with them was far from liberating.
“They will eventually achieve to some extent. They will manage to improve the control of the vehicle, but they are not at Mercedes level.
“Unless I was misinformed, they brought a different, new base [to the first race of the season].
“Mercedes hit the track with largely the same car from the tests.
“Aston Martin is now sixth or seventh [in the pecking order].
“With the Mercedes engine and what they now have, of course they will go up. But that won’t change things.”
From the same interview, Marko has also caused a quite a stir by seemingly devaluing Pierre Gasly’s P5 qualifying result in the AlphaTauri, saying that Max Verstappen would have been at least two tenths quicker than him in the ATO2.