Sebastian Vettel has shot down the “old school” suggestion that Aston Martin, as a customer team, would not be “allowed” to beat Mercedes.
Aston Martin, the former Racing Point outfit, return to the F1 grid this season as a constructor for the first time since 1960, with Vettel and team owner’s son Lance Stroll as their drivers.
Last year, the Racing Point was dubbed the ‘pink Mercedes’ for its technical similarity to the 2019 World Championship-winning W10 – so much so that the team were punished by the FIA for ‘copying’ the rear brake ducts, a penalty that cost them P3 in the standings.
There remains a close relationship between Mercedes and Aston Martin, not least because the World Champions’ co-owner Toto Wolff is a friend of Lawrence Stroll and also a shareholder in the Aston Martin Lagonda luxury car group, although not the F1 team.
But according to Vettel, who left Ferrari at the end of 2020, that does not mean Mercedes have Aston Martin just where they want them and no closer.
The German believes there is nothing to stop his new team from getting the better of the World Champions on merit, with Racing Point’s victory via Sergio Perez in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix having essentially been gifted to them by a Mercedes pit-stop blunder.
Asked if Aston Martin are weakened by being a customer team, Vettel, quoted by RacingNews365, said: “I’m not worried about that. I think your fears are old school. The world has moved on. In the past, probably you were right. In some cases it may still be present, in other cases a long time ago.
“With somebody like Mercedes, I think we can trust that you get a very fair treatment and if you are faster you will be allowed to beat them.
“I think this sort of mindset [of thinking there is a disadvantage] is way out of date as a principle. I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not worried.
“I think if we are very close to Mercedes that’s a very good achievement, so that will be the last thing I’ll worry about.”
Vettel is feeling positive about working with Mercedes power for the first time.
“The Mercedes unit is supposedly the strongest on the grid and it will be my first time with Mercedes in Formula 1,” added the four-time former World Champion. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they work.
“We [Aston Martin] are obviously not in charge of the engine and its development and we can benefit from such strong partners, so we can get on with the car and only worry about that. I think we have lots of stuff to do on that front.”