Sebastian Vettel is already impressing Aston Martin with his thirst for knowledge, asking “all the right questions and a lot of them”.
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer has likened the four-time former World Champion to a “performance engineer behind the wheel”, such is Vettel’s desire to get the most out of a car he will be driving for the first time in 2021.
Vettel has joined Aston Martin, the rebranded Racing Point team, from Ferrari where he endured a poor sixth and final season, looking something of a fading force as he continually raced in the midfield and achieved only one podium finish at the Turkish Grand Prix.
But Szafnauer is convinced that since beginning to integrate himself at the Silverstone factory, the German driver, complete with a new shaven-headed look, is a revitalised figure showing exactly the desire needed to push the team forwards.
— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) February 4, 2021
“He’s really hungry to perform,” said Szafnauer in an interview with Sky F1. “We’ve started working with him this year already and you can see it. He asks all the right questions, and a lot of them, and he’s really hungry for knowledge.
“An engineer described Sebastian to me as having a performance engineer behind the wheel. He wants to know as much, if not more, than the performance engineer you have working on the car, whose job it is to understand every little aspect of the car’s performance.
“Seb wants to know that much plus more. That’s a good trait to have, he has that, he has carried that with him to our team, we see it and he’s really hungry, as he said, to have fun again in Formula 1.
“But fun to him means being competitive. Fun for him means working really hard and extracting every bit of performance out of the car and achieving what the team can achieve and being a big part of that.”
Szafnauer added that he also believes Vettel still has what it takes on the track as well as off it, given doubts have been raised about whether the 33-year-old retains the pace and race craft required to be a major force.
“Those questions are all valid questions coming off the season he had last year,” said the Romania-born American.
“The way I look at it is that at 33 years old you don’t forget how to drive a Formula 1 racing car fast. He definitely hasn’t forgotten how to do that and for sure the work ethic is still there.”