Aston Martin explain failed Vettel Turkey tyre gamble

Henry Valantine
Sebastian Vettel on the starting grid at Monza. Italy September 2021

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel on the starting grid ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. Italy September 2021

Otmar Szafnauer said the team trusted the judgment of Sebastian Vettel regarding his dry tyre switch in Turkey, but it ultimately backfired.

The Istanbul Park surface had dried slightly during the race on Sunday and, while running in the lower reaches of the points in P10, the four-time World Champion felt as though he would try something different and swap to dry tyres, to potentially steal a march on his rivals.

However, the track conditions were not in the right window for that strategy to work for the Aston Martin driver, and he struggled for grip on his sole lap on the medium compound, which dropped him down to P18, and he finished a lap down by the time the chequered flag dropped.

Vettel was asked about the possibility of going onto slicks on team radio, and he responded: “Medium, medium, let’s go for it. These inters can’t be any worse.”

Former F1 driver Christian Dammers dubbed the move “completely stupid” afterwards and, while it did not work out, the Aston Martin team principal ultimately trusted the German’s instinct, as he was the one on track.

“He wanted to gamble himself, we didn’t tell him no,” Szafnauer said to Autosport. “Seb came on the radio and he said, ‘I want dry tyres, put mediums on,’ and we didn’t challenge him, we did what he said. It happened pretty quickly, so we didn’t debate that long with him.

“Oftentimes we say that in drying conditions like that, it’s a driver’s choice. And we went with that. The other way round it’s more of a team thing, but on a drying track the driver’s out there feeling it.

“It’s just I think this track here is a normal drying track, it doesn’t dry normally so it’s hard to predict. He knew right away the grip wasn’t there, so he came in the next lap, but he lost a lot of time.”

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“You have to trust him, and the other thing you got to trust is he is good in the wet and tricky conditions, and that’s exactly what was out there.

“So if he says I can do it then who are we to argue? But I think this wasn’t the norm, it’s a different track in the wet.

“Should have, could have, would have, had it worked and he finished fourth or on the podium we would have been happy. So no risk, no reward.

“It wasn’t just the one extra pit stop, because the pit loss is around 20 seconds around here, but it was the extra 30 seconds he lost on that lap and that’s what killed him.

“On the intermediate he did really good lap times once he got through the graining phase.”


As for team-mate Lance Stroll, he managed to control his race relatively comfortably and brought his Aston Martin home in a respectable ninth place, which pleased his team principal.

“A good solid performance, he had good lap times all race,” said Szafnauer. “I think we pitted him at the right time. We had a bit of a slow stop unfortunately, and it’s hard to tell where he would ended up.

“[Carlos] Sainz was pretty quick once he got through the graining phase. But so was Lance, so [a] good performance.”


Sebastian Vettel's disaster call at Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin's disaster call to change to the medium tyres at the Turkish Grand Prix.