Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Aston Martin to begin “clawing back the deficit that was imposed on us”

2021 F1 season

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Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer says the team will not resign itself to an uncompetitive season following its disappointing start to 2021 in Bahrain.

The team, which as Racing Point won the penultimate race of last year, left the first race of the new season with a single point.

The AMR01, like its predecessor, shares the ‘low rake’ design philosophy also used by Mercedes, which supplies its power unit, gearbox and other parts to the team. The pair have suffered more from off-season changes to the rear bodywork regulations than rivals with high-rake cars.

However Szafnauer insists “there’s more to come” from their car and says they “haven’t given up on this year.”

“We have found things in the [wind] tunnel and in CFD,” he explained, “so we’ll start bringing them to the track pretty soon. It’s just a matter of clawing back the deficit that was imposed on us by the FIA through their regulation change based on safety.

“From talking to some of the other teams, they seem to have made up the entire deficit and we haven’t. And that’s just because of the different aero philosophy we run. So we’ll work hard to get that done in the next few races.”

“The changes were all made around the rear of the floor around the tyre area so that’s where we have to start looking for more downforce,” he added. “So it’ll be rear downforce that we’re looking to improve. And with that comes better balance of being able to dial in more front wing and the whole thing just takes off.”

Szafnauer admitted the team had a “rude awakening” after qualifying in Bahrain. “We realised after analysing the data that the low-rake cars were hampered significantly more by the regulation change.”

A simple solution to their loss of performance doesn’t exist, he believes. “[For] the first time ever that I can remember in my 24 years of the sport, we’ve had to homologate the suspension due to the Covid regulations. You could only change it if you actually used your [development] tokens on suspension. So even if we wanted to run a 150mm rear ride height, we can’t.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 42 comments on “Aston Martin to begin “clawing back the deficit that was imposed on us””

    1. You could only change it if you actually used your [development] tokens on suspension

      So why didn’t you use your token on changing suspension? We all know the answer, don’t we, Mr Szafnauer?

      1. @armchairexpert because the team decided to spend their tokens on modifying the front of the monocoque and the survival cell of their car?

      2. @armchairexpert maybe because they didn’t know until testing that the high-rake cars were less affected by the new floor regs. It’s not like Christian Horner was going to ring him up and let him know during the off-season, was it?

        1. Also Horner wasn’t sure if the high rake was highly affected or just less. But everyone was affected but it seems the low rake the most but there was a sollution for that by spending a token on the rear suppension. (like Red Bull did…)

      3. @gardenfella72 They knew about it already last year, as admitted by the same Mr Szafnauer

        “I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” said Szafnauer. “But it was pointed out last year by the low-rake runners, that this would have a bigger effect than on the high rake runners. “And we were correct. At the time, the regulations were being made this was pointed out.”

        They have chosen not to change suspension for very obvious reason.

        @anon See above. They knew about it, they had a chance to change it, they chose not to. They should stop whining and live with consequences of their decisions. “””Copying””” Mercedes goes both ways, it seems. Sometimes you can get away with it, but it can catch you out with pants down, completely exposed.

        1. @armchairexpert qualitative projections and quantitative results are two different things, don’t you think?

          They have chosen not to change suspension for very obvious reason.

          Why don’t you explain this reason, then?

          1. @gardenfella72 If team has knowledge its concept will not be working as well as before under new regulations, which was confirmed by Szafnauer, and despite that it sticks with it, only to whine like a baby few months later, then it deserves absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. You can even call it intentionally sabotaging yourself, unless… you’re running a “””copy””” of another team’s car , but have no idea how to develop it on your own. Coincidentally, drivers and engineers from other teams said multiple times it’s impossible to copy another car simply by looking at pictures. Funnily enough, it seems there was no high raked Mercedes powered F1 car Aston Martin could’ve copied over winter and that’s precisely the very obvious reason why they are stuck with what they have in 2021.

            1. @armchairexpert or maybe the token system tied their hands. Changing to a high-rake concept involves re-designing far more than just the rear suspension (2 tokens) it would also necessitate a new front suspension (also 2 tokens) and pretty much every aerodynamic surface would need to change too (no tokens)

              Mercedes didn’t (and couldn’t) make that change over the winter so how would you expect Aston Martin to do so, especially considering a switch from low-rake to high-rake would take 4 tokens and only 2 are available?

            2. I think OS is being disingenuous here. He is claiming they knew this would happen going back to last year when the rule was made, a rule he acknowledges was for safety. Why then would they have had a ‘rude awakening’ only after Bahrain quali? His choice of words ‘imposed on us’ while on the one hand could mean all the teams, makes it sound like it was done intentionally to those with low rakes, and to me is a strange way of working a rule change meant for safety. As well, Allison had said to Ted Kravitz after their Merc reveal and ahead of testing, that it was an unknown to them as to whether the floor change would favour either rake. If it was an unknown to Merc how was it so ‘known’ since last year by OS? I think OS is whining while trying his best not to sound like he is.

            3. Should read strange way of ‘wording’ a rule…

        2. Karma is a b

    2. Dean Franklin
      9th April 2021, 7:56

      Make the car higher rake.

      1. As explained in the last section of the article, they can’t do that due to the token system.

        1. Dean Franklin
          9th April 2021, 8:45

          Should have saved some tokens. Or shouldn’t have used such an extreme design philosophy.

          1. Only 2 tokens are allowed and it’s not an extreme design philosophy
            Change rear suspension = 2 tokens.
            Change front suspension = 2 tokens.
            If you change form low to high rake, you’ll need to change both front & rear suspension = 4 tokens.

            1. shhhgardenfella
              9th April 2021, 16:31

              Ok, but you seem to be forgetting (or perhaps you’re just new or maybe you are just getting more interested in the political side of F1 now) that the reason why AM didn’t spend tokens on the rear suspension was that they were getting Mercedes 2020 suspension.

              End of last year everyone was upset about this and AM and their fans were flaunting it around like it would be their golden ticket to the front. That allowed them to use the tokens for upgrades elsewhere. Additionally, no one knew which side it would favour with many initially thinking the high-rake teams would be more impacted. Even up until testing, Mercedes was saying they weren’t sure which way the pendulum would swing if either way.

              Now, Otmar is contradicting himself when he earlier said during the race weekend that they knew and were complaining about it when it was first announced, but here he is stating they were shocked by it. None of his stories from even before now made sense and he’s well known to spread bs, so even this I’m not buying. No one else has really claimed this at all and everyone that wasn’t an AM fan was kinda expecting them to go backwards this year anyway. The only reason why this rumour holds any value is because Mercedes were also affected badly by these rules. Otmar though needs to be put in his place and called out more for his endless bs, Zak did a good job last year with this and provided a lot of entertainment.

    3. Aaron turnbull
      9th April 2021, 8:14

      Just stop already… no one forced you to follow mercs philosophy

      Of course the FIA will try and slow the mercs down. They did exactly the same thing to redbull with the blown diffusor…

      1. antony obrien
        9th April 2021, 8:59

        Yes 100%. Its like a kid complaining the sweets he stole were out of date. I like the team alot, they are a benchmark of doing alot with a relative little but the FIA have been trying to neuter Mercedes for years. Serendipitous it might have been but they finally got them ergo the team now known as Aston Martin as well.

      2. pastaman (@)
        9th April 2021, 12:26

        Stop what? Answering questions from the media?

        1. antony obrien
          9th April 2021, 13:59

          Its an expression. Ok now?

    4. This team really went from super sympathetic to super obnoxious right quick, didn’t they?

      Suck it up, Otmar. You literally got away with only a 15 point penalty and were allowed to run a technically illegal car last year and got a race win and podiums out of it. Take your L and sort it out.

      1. @aiii exactly this. From the most beloved underdog to an annoying and often aggressive team. Replacing Perez with Vettel, having Stroll junior as first driver, copying Mercedes. Otmar received new goals from the board since Stroll’s buyout, and he doesn’t look always comfortable with defending it.

      2. People used to like Jordan and most of the time Force India, but now the words of certain individuals within this team really encourage us to want to hate them

      3. Yeah this. To be honest, after watching Stroll Snr in DTS S3, shedding croc-tears about being dragged through the dirt, with blatant lies about the team and their car being innocent, honest and above all, legal. Well, that sealed it for me. The new villains on the grid (well, after Team USSR).

        I wonder if Eddie Jorden will still bang-on about “There’s Jordan DNA in that there Force India/Racing Point/Aston Martin” – because nothing could be further from the truth in 2020/2021.

    5. But how achievable would clawing back the deficit be under the current development restrictions? I mean, concerning P3 in the WCC. I’m sure they won’t sacrifice next year to any extent, but still.

    6. Lyle Clarke
      9th April 2021, 9:46

      Hated how much he complained during the Bahrain GP about the rule changes whilst Mercedes were leading the race with practically the same car. Just do better, stop moaning.

    7. He loves to have a whinge.

    8. Dipo Andrew
      9th April 2021, 10:08

      2022 is potentially going to be very ugly for Aston Martin, that is if they don’t get any guidance from Mercedes. Green and Omar moaned and moaned about the new regs, before they got postponed. “The cars will be nasty to drive, just a little faster than F2 cars” . Ross Brawn had to come out and say Racing Point (as they were then) were simply complaining because they were the team that had done the least amount of work on the new cars. They had probably hoped to be able to copy Mercedes for the rest of their existence.

      1. I fear you may be right. Safnauer and other team leadership have been very open in complaining about the regulations, which does not make me hopeful for the team’s future.

        One would hope that doing the CTR+C => CTRL+V of the best car on the grid would allow them to free resources to better develop the car for the future, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I hope Aston Martin doesn’t become a backmarker for the first 3 years of the new regulations.

      2. Not quite – they knew they would have to design a new car for 2022, but were looking for the best way to get reasonably good results in the interim period, hence the pink Mercedes.

        They didn’t expect to be able to copy Mercedes forever, and in any case, have done pretty well over the years with their own philosophy. I expect they’ll do reasonably well with a their own new car next year, especially as it’s quite often been the finance holding them back in the past. Obviously, the financial situation is effectively resolved now.

    9. This is the same team that reverse engineered an F1 car from photos alone or am I missing something here ? A thing that required impressive problem solving skills, never seen before in F1 though. Last year, Szafnauer kept lecturing us about how smart his engineers were. Can’t they just elevate the rear of the car by 3 cm and adjust accordingly ?

    10. It’s like when you copied your friends homework. It was easy to do that but when you have to explain how it works and how to continue developing it becomes very difficult to understand.

      1. Spot on!

    11. Toto, you little weasel….. wolf….. whatever you are!!!

    12. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      9th April 2021, 12:30

      The extreme salt coming from this team over a car they openly admit they copied and are now upset that their duplicated machine doesn’t work the way it was intended – as in, bring instant success without doing the homework is becoming comically annoying. If the design was mostly theirs instead of reverse engineered from someone else’s maybe they’d know how to fix it?

      1. @rocketpanda Not to mention it hasn’t brought them instant success, which shows that not only can they not just do as they have and make it work like the factory team, but to me also reinforces no only that point, but the point that no copier let alone customer of the works team will ever prevail over the works team, especially now that hybrid technology is so complex and so tied to being integrated to the chassis like never before, since 2014. Brawn does want to head back somewhat to less complex plug-and-play for the next chapter’s pu change for 2025, but I still think a driver is still going to want to be with a factory team if he wants any reasonable chance to win the titles. What might make that a bit more doubtful though is that it should be much more a driver vs driver series, so perhaps a customer driver might, just might be able to make a difference, in a strong second place WCC car. Bottom line for me, Aston Martin needs to make their own pu and start doing their own thing all in-house for 2025, if they’re serious about becoming a top team.

        1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
          9th April 2021, 21:58

          100% agree, if Aston Martin genuinely want to become not just winners but championship winners in F1 they’re probably going to have to build their own car & engine. Like you, I doubt a customer, or even the world’s best copiers can take a title with that setup.

          I do think it would be better to take some of that power out of the hands of the works teams and give the private teams the ability to fight equally. It would be interesting to see how the percieved ‘lead’ teams would fare if they had to fight a customer.

    13. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” said Szafnauer.

      Followed by a conspiracy theory.

      1. antony obrien
        9th April 2021, 14:00

        Him and Dean F should get a room. Preferably in orbit

    14. Obviously Stroll is wanting and expecting the success of the F1 team to boost sales of the Rd cars. I wondering how dependant the F1 team is on the increased sales of the Rd cars for survival?

    15. Woe is me, I wholesale copied a car and now that philosophy is not as good and I don’t have the talent to make it work.

    16. Life is a bitch, isn’t Mr Szafnauer? Remember what your technical director was quoted on saying here at Racefans about a month ago on the subject of taking on 2020 Mercede’s rear end (that sounds a bit nasty, doesn’t it?)? Let me refresh your memory. “I think all I can say is that it didn’t hurt, which was our biggest concern. We had already committed to the 2020 suspension and gearbox before the regulations changed. So there was a concern that potentially it was going in the wrong direction. But it soon became apparent that it at a minimum complemented them and it turned out to be a non-issue in the end.” He also added that “I think we’ve given ourselves a solid foundation to work off” and signed off with this beauty: “For the rear end and the gearbox it’s something that had been planned for a long time and we had a lot of warning, we had a lot of data up front on what the rear end looked like. The integration started relatively early for this car. So it didn’t come as a shock. We had plenty of time to plan for it, plenty of time to develop around it”.
      And that’s what helped you spend your tokens redesigning the side-impact structure of the RP20 (which was a copy of the W10) and be in fact, the only team in the 2021 championship with a new chassis.
      So, just be a big boy and suck it up. Serves you right for being disrespectful last year to companies like Ferrari, Renault, McLaren and Williams who are the living history and backbone of the F1 championship.

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