Otmar Szafnauer has refused to read too much into Sebastian Vettlel’s early days at Aston Martin, reiterating his confidence in the German driver.
Vettel is one of the most decorated drivers in Formula 1 history, having won four World Championships, but it goes without saying he has had a difficult few years of late.
He finished P13 with Ferrari’s below-par power unit last season and has made a poor start to life with his new team, Aston Martin.
Vettel ended the race in P15 at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but that is not even close to the whole story, with the former Red Bull man picking up five penalty points over the course of the weekend and starting bottom of the grid.
Despite his struggles so far, team principal Szafnauer has defended his new driver.
When asked if Vettel is battling against people’s opinions, Szafnauer said: “It’s very, very early to say that. We only have one data point, one race.
“Yeah, it wasn’t the best race but if you look at the positives, he had to start last, he was running in the top 10 for a while, [and he] felt good in the car.
“Just from watching him from the pit wall, looking at his lap times – and his lap times were not that dissimilar to Lance [Stroll] who has been driving here for a while, [he] knows us well, [he] knows the car well.
“He ended up finishing in a relatively decent position (10th) and at times was pretty competitive on the medium and the soft [tyres], so was Seb.
“I’ve got to talk to him. It’s way too early to say that.”
It was not just the race weekend that was littered with issues for Vettel, but also pre-season testing – reliability issues with the AMR21 meant he could put in just 117 laps, the fewest of any full-time driver.
That certainly was not the ideal start, especially given the reduced three-day period which he had to get used to his new challenger, but Szafnauer is confident that Vettel will get there soon.
“The car he is driving now is totally different from what he drove before, from car characteristics, powertrain characteristics, a lot of things,” added Szafnauer.
“He was getting to grips to know it and make set-up changes to suit him in qualifying when he had the yellow flags.
“It’s really early days. He didn’t do a lot of laps in testing, we only had three days and he had to share those days with Lance, and he seemed to have all the problems.
“So I’m still confident we will get Seb there.”