Sebastian Vettel thought Aston Martin could place around the outer reaches of the top 10 in qualifying on Saturday, but it wasn’t to be.
Aston Martin raised eyebrows when they brought a new-look AMR22 to Barcelona heading into the weekend, with its outward similarities to Red Bull’s RB18 prompting queries from the title challengers about the legality of the changes – but Aston Martin were cleared of any wrongdoing.
The change in design was thought to be a catalyst for the team to climb up the standings after a torrid start to the season that sees them second bottom in the Constructors’ Championship as it stands.
Both Vettel and Lance Stroll were eliminated in Q1 in Barcelona on Saturday, with the four-time World Champion saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” on team radio when informed he would not progress any further.
After showing encouraging signs on Friday, the German said he was unable to control the rear of the car in the way he wanted, but still thought the team would be more competitive.
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“We were looking stronger in free practice and I honestly thought we would do better in qualifying,” Vettel said after the session. “This afternoon, however, I struggled with the balance: I had a lot more oversteer and could not really carry speed into the corners without losing the rear.
“Still, the team has done an incredible job to bring two all-new cars to this race – that was a huge effort. The reward of all that effort is not showing quite yet, but I am sure it will come.
“Tomorrow is a new day and we will be pushing hard. It does not help when you start farther back, but I think we should be able to make up some ground in the race.”
Stroll will line up P18 on Sunday, one row behind his Aston Martin team-mate, and the start of Q1 saw him almost collide with Lando Norris in the pit lane – with a €5000 [£4200] subsequently coming the team’s way after they admitted to an unsafe release.
He too wasn’t best pleased with how the team’s qualifying turned out, but thinks it will take time to get used to setting up the radically-changed AMR22.
“It is a disappointing result today,” said the Canadian. “I have struggled with the balance of the car all weekend and, when you do not feel comfortable, you cannot set fast laps.
“We know it is early days with this package, though, so we need to make sure that we understand the reasons for today and see how we can improve the set-up moving forward.
“Now, it is about focusing on tomorrow. The conditions are likely to be very hot and the tyres need to be managed, so maybe we can make up ground with a good strategy. We will see.”