Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2021

Aston Martin expect Ferrari will be “really difficult to beat” in 2021

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer predicts Ferrari, who will present their new car for the 2021 F1 season today, will be much tougher competitors this year.

What they say

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[/CBC]Aston Martin finished fourth in the championship last year as Racing Point, seven points behind McLaren after having 15 points deducted, with Renault (now Alpine) and Ferrari behind them. Szafnauer predicts all four will be the mix for third in the championship this year.

I think it would be foolhardy for us to not worry about those behind us and just look ahead of us. I think we’ve got to do a good job. The midfield is ever-increasing in competitiveness. It’s getting much more difficult.

I can’t see Ferrari staying where they finished, sixth, forever, so they’ll be really difficult to beat this year and beyond. McLaren beat us last year into third. They’ll be difficult. Renault have the might of a manufacturer behind them as well, they’re not going to be easy with Alonso coming in, two-time world champion. So it will be very, very difficult for us to finish at the top of that midfield.

It’s not going to be easy. And yes, at the same time, we want to look at the guys who finished ahead of us and get closer to Mercedes and Red Bull. We want to get closer to them as well. So the task is great but we’re up for the challenge and we’ll work hard and do the best we can to achieve that.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Lundgaard leads second day of F2 testing

Lundgaard’s morening time wasn’t beaten in the afternoon
Alpine junior driver Christian Lundgaard headed the second day of Formula 2 testing at Bahrain International Circuit for ART. His quickest time of 1’41.697 put him three tenths of a second clear of Bent Viscaal for Trident.

Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong was third for DAMS, the trio all setting their quickest times in the morning running. Dan Ticktum was quickest in the afternoon for Carlin and ended the day fourth overall. Liam Lawson for Hitech and Robert Shwartzman for Prema ensured the day ended with six different teams in the top six. However HWA pair Matteo Nannini and Alessio Deledda ended the day at the bottom of the times.

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Comment of the day

Is Lewis Hamilton not having to extend himself to beat Valtteri Bottas?

I believe there’s one important difference that looking at the stats doesn’t show (and I’ll readily admit this is my uninformed opinion with no real evidence to back it up).

Outside of Turkey Hamilton didn’t appear anywhere near his limit last year. The gap between him and Bottas looked smaller than it was because he didn’t need to push any harder to beat him, the few times Bottas got close Hamilton always found a couple of extra tenths. This was rarely the case against Rosberg, and you always felt he was actually pushing.

That’s why I want Russell in the car. Hamilton is one of the greats of the sport but with Bottas in the other car we don’t get to see it because he doesn’t have to push.
Steve Rogers (@Yossarian)

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On this day in F1

Start, Phoenix, 1991
Senna began his bid for a third Formula 1 title with victory in Phoenix today in 1991
  • 30 years ago today Ayrton Senna won F1’s final race at Phoenix, where Mika Hakkinen and Jordan made their debuts. But a nearby ostrich race reportedly drew a bigger crowd…

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Aston Martin expect Ferrari will be “really difficult to beat” in 2021”

  1. pastaman (@)
    10th March 2021, 3:31

    Otmar Szafnauer is not the CEO of Aston Martin, he is the CEO of the Aston Martin F1 Team.

    1. @pastaman Indeed. A small difference.

      1. @jerejj A pretty big difference I would say. You wouldn’t call Mattia Binotto the CEO of Ferrari, or Christian Horner the CEO of Red Bull, etc.

  2. mistakenly classifies Jack Aitken as a regular F1 driver, even though he isn’t.

    COTD: I agree.

  3. I suggest the COTD man to watch Hamilton’s and the other drivers full onboard on F1TV. You’ll get another view of this sport.

    I mean, have you ever raced tenth of a second by tenth of a second, corner by corner, lap by lap ?

    1. @jeff1s I agree with him though. In qualifying, there’s no way Hamilton is easing off, but in the races, he is basically driving within himself the whole time. He never has to push 100% during the races, as he can win without doing so. And I’m not blaming Hamilton for this, as it’s the most efficient way of winning and ensuring you don’t make mistakes and save your car. That’s why I enjoyed some of Hamilton’s drives in 2017-2019 more when he had genuine competition and had to push at 100% at most races. I think 2020 was an extremely easy year for him, similar to Vettel in 2011 or 2013 when it seemed like he could sleep through a race.

  4. COTD is spot on. And I know that’s not something a lot of people love to hear, but it’s the same problem Max has in that their teammates are so bad they don’t really get any incentives to push harder because of them. In Max case, he still had a target ahead in trying to split the Merc’s or in 2019 even pole, but for Hamilton, the worst case scenario was somehow ending up 2nd on the grid and having to pass Bottas in the first few laps of the race, something he didn’t exactly seem to struggle with.

    Hopefully this season (unlikely), but especially the coming seasons, there will be more than one team fighting for poles and wins and this won’t be such a problem anymore.

  5. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    10th March 2021, 11:08

    Not sure what I think about COTD. Some of it I agree with and that is that Bottas isn’t really pushing Hamilton that hard, but what I don’t get is how we have had enough evidence to show that Russell consistently will.

    Russell has been against 2 rather poor drivers that were rated dead last in the driver rankings in 2019 and 2020…. Then he has a single performance where he was slightly better than bottas who people say was having a bad day. When Bottas is at a reasonable performance level, he can get pretty close to Hamilton and sometimes beat him, though not often.

    The main thing I don’t understand is the amount of people that seem to imply Russell being in the mercedes will result in an instant challenge for Hamilton. With Russell having such weak team mates and a one off race at Mercedes, it can’t prove what he is like in the long term.

    1. @thegianthogweed I think that is a fair point, and I think I might appear like one of those you categorize as someone that thinks GR would immediately challenge LH if he replaced VB next year, or whenever. However, I actually hadn’t really even thought of it quite that way, but moreso that VB certainly isn’t challenging him, and that at the same time GR could learn a lot from LH. It seems to me GR has been hyped because he is under the Mercedes umbrella, and because of his record vs his teammates so far, but you rightly point out that has been against weak teammates. For me his performance in his one-off was impressive just given the short notice and him not fitting into the car very well, which as much showed what a great car it is, as it showed what GR can do. But yeah, I know I would have to be accused of wanting LH to be more challenged on the team, but first and foremost I was thinking that VB needs to go, and that Mercedes should start grooming young GR.

      Additionally to that, in the video referenced above from the Sky crew, Martin calls this year a ‘make or break’ year for VB at Mercedes, and apparently VB is saying he needs and plans to do a Nico to LH this year…ie. be more ruthless and selfish, but at the same time, haven’t we heard that before? Didn’t he need to do that from year one as LH’s teammate, and then with each successive year shouldn’t that have been what his mentality has been all along? As Karun says, a driver needs to be giving 110% all the time anyway, implying as I just said, what should be any different this year? I suppose unless he truly does a Nico and puts so much into it, starting as soon as last season ended, and takes so much out of himself as a result, that come the end of this season he is exhausted and can’t carry on at that level in a sustainable way for further seasons?

  6. Hamilton grumpy with Brundle, sacking his right-hand man, likely friction in the contract negotiations and expected going forward. The black lives thing got to him? Just angry at privileged whites generally now? With Bottas saying he’ll be more selfish and demanding this season, that relationship could sour as well.

  7. Maybe he wanted a max clause. Maybe he wanted 0 press work. Maybe he wanted to be an hero and do nice things.
    We have no idea except it is all about Lewis. If he is unhappy he is going to make sure everyone knows it.

  8. Bit surprised there hasn’t been more said of some of the things the Sky crew have said of their hopes and expectations for this coming year, be it amongst the teams, and the drivers.

    One thing particularly that stood out for me, and it only dawned on me afterwards, which caused me to listen to it again to check, is that there was not a single peep of a mention about the potential trial for super-qualifying. Not a peep. And this after several around here have complained that this concept is completely Sky driven, and completely, strictly, for revenues. Oh of course they will be talking about it inevitably as they start their year’s coverage with the testing in a few days, but isn’t is fair to say that if this was soooo Sky driven, soooo about revenues, that they would take every opportunity, starting with this video, to hammer home what one would assume would be their overwhelming support, if not insistence, that this trial take place?

    Not a peep.

    My other takeaway as a Max fan is the sentiment that RBR might have something special to bring this season, as they have been very secretive about what they have done from an aero standpoint, and as well the fact that Honda has accelerated their pu program and brought forth that which they were planning for 2022, into this season. They implied that RBR had a bit of an ‘aha’ moment of discovery about their car that came to fruition when Max dominated the last race of the season, with Horner implying he wished they had known that (whatever it was they learned) earlier in the season. So there is real potential there for them to have picked up where they left off from that last race, Max’s ‘lovely, lovely race.’ Of course the proof is in the pudding and it all has to translate to putting rubber to the road, and we cannot speak for the relative pace of advancement Mercedes will have achieved, but anyway, I find it exciting to hear from some insiders that RBR could/should be more of a force to be reckoned with relative to Mercedes. As usual it is going to be so so interesting to see how things play out. And as usual it is one race at a time and their learning never stops.

    1. Actually Max didn’t dominated the last race, yes he finished first but the Mercedes were faster in Qualfy but couldn’t get all sectors together. Then in the race they couldn’t keep close to max as the engine was slightly reduced by 0.1

      But the Aero was a improvement as it was the several last races allready much beter. If they keep that and improve the rear i think they will start beter then normal.

  9. That helmet test is so frightening to watch.

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