Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021

Vettel is getting to grips with Aston Martin “a bit slower than I would like”

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In the round-up: Sebastian Vettel wants to speed up his progress at Aston Martin.

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In brief

Vettel’s progress slower than he wants

After reaching Q3 but failing to score in Portugal, Vettel said he’s making progress “bit by bit” at Aston Martin.

“A bit slower than I would like, but here we are, we are working very hard and I’m sure eventually it will come.”

Team mate Lance Stroll was the only Aston Martin driver to use their latest upgrade last weekend. Vettel said he will have the new parts for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix but isn’t sure what to expect from them.

“Obviously I haven’t felt them and I don’t know, but I hope that it’s going to be a better weekend. This weekend we also fought a little bit with set-up. So I hope for a more straightforward weekend the next one and better pace, especially Sunday afternoon.”

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Multiple Indy 500 winner Unser dies

Bobby Unser, Indianapolis, 1975
Unser celebrating his second of three IndyCar wins
Bobby Unser, winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, died on Sunday at the age of 87, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has confirmed. He also took two championship victories in the series and won a total of 35 races.

He enjoyed even greater success on the Pikes Peak hillclimb. Unser was named ‘King of the Mountain’ on 10 occasions and won his class 13 times.

He went on to contribute to television coverage of IndyCar racing. One of six Unsers to race at Indianapolis, he commentated on his brother Al’s record-equalling fourth Indy 500 win in 1987, and nephew Al Unser Jnr’s victory five years later.

“There simply was no one quite like Bobby Unser,” said his former team boss and Indianapolis Motor Speedway chairman Roger Penske. “Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen.”

Spanish GP open to 1,000 fans on Sunday

The Circuit de Catalunya will allow 1,000 fans to attend Sunday’s F1 race, on the day Covid-19 restrictions are loosened in the country. Due to the very limited number permitted, they will be drawn at random from members of the circuit who express an interest in attending.

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Comment of the day

Did last weekend’s race make a good case for having a bonus point for fastest lap?

Unless the lead driver has pulled out a massive track advantage, it favours the drivers in the faster teams who haven’t performed as well yet have a big gap behind them. A bonus point for coming second (or third or fourth).

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Jack Sargeant, Martin Stanley, Three4Three, Skodarap, Vickyy and F1_Barbie!

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On this day in F1

John Watson, McLaren, Roberto Guerrero, Theodore, Long Beach, 1983
Watson, 75 today, set a record by winning at Long Beach in 1983 from 22nd on the grid

Author information

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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43 comments on “Vettel is getting to grips with Aston Martin “a bit slower than I would like””

  1. What might have been!
    You wonder if Lauda had managed to bring Seb to Mercedes from RB, instead of going for Lewis…
    Seb could by now have eleven world titles and be talked about by all of us as the greatest of the greats.

    I rather suspect Lauda did talk to Seb first, before Lewis. But at the time Seb was raking in the titles….

    1. Maybe. Nobody knows. Hamilton has been competitive for 14 years, that’s why he always got good equipment.

      Vettel had his off seasons even when the hardware was there, and that’s why he’s in a middle team now fighting for scraps.

    2. In that case Ferrari would probably go for Hamilton and they would probably win the championship in 2017-2018.

    3. Yes, timing and luck has proven to be pivotal. Had Mercedes hired Ricciardo they would subsequently never felt the need to hire Lewis, despite his talent. We would be looking at 6-7 times WDC Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis still being stuck at one title. I know the best driver ends up -on merit- in the fastest car, but not if that car is already winning with whomever is driving it. So he would have never got a chance to drive that Mercedes. So, good for him. Sorry fans cant see through the elephant in the room though with GOAT remarks. Thats just disrespectful to drivers in the past. I am just happy and proud for Lewis which I would still be should he have been at 1 WDC. An incredibly good driver.

      1. Agree with that, schumacher is not my favourite driver because he won 7 titles, there’s more to it than just titles and wins.

        1. Since they’re so car dependant, especially in recent times.

    4. someone or something
      4th May 2021, 9:20

      Or we might have Rosberg homing in on his 7th title.

    5. ian dearing
      4th May 2021, 10:13

      Yup, and Seb in the Merc could have spent years falling short of challenging the opposition year after year until a LeClerc came along to show him how to do it properly. I think I’d go for what if Alonso had a good year in 2007. Going for his 10th title today?

  2. Already you feel Vettel sounds a bit deflated. Wonder if he hoped he’d be jumping into a pink Mercedes, whereas he’s now got a green Ferrari! 😉

    1. Yup! Not helped by the owner’s son getting the upgrades first 🤔

      1. To be fair those upgrades didn’t help him much the other day.

        1. someone or something
          4th May 2021, 9:22

          According to whom? Just because he fumbled qualifying, doesn’t mean the upgrades didn’t offer an advantage.

  3. Bonus point for FL has not worked yet it’s here to stay (even Martin Brundle was commenting in favour of it at the end of the race). As COTD correctly points out, it rarely goes to a deserving driver and more often than not unfairly rewards underperformance.

    The same will happen with Sprint Qualifying. Whether it works well or not it’ll be here to stay and eventually commentators and some fans will resign to it.

    Not me.

    1. @aussierod Yes sadly. And I bet fanboost is not far away either.

      1. That would be something. Fan boost. I will need to find another Motorsport to watch the day that happens

    2. Yet Ham lead the driver standings through it the previous round and RB cared enough to complain about losing it last week. Do not forget it also applies to constructors too, and RB/Merc are going for it week to week.

      As for rewarding underperformance, you can only go for it if you have a gap. And you need to actually you know, STAY on track to earn it, something Max seems to.forget lately. Even Merc had to admit strategic complains.

      Honestly I’m glad they introduced it and happy for it to stay. A good addition to F1.

  4. The strategy fallout of successive drivers, Perez, then Bottas and finally Verstapen taking on tyres to get the single point was unexpected (by me) and interesting to watch.
    Does the point go only to the driver or is there a Constructor’s point to it as well.? If there is it explains some of the interest in it between Mercedes and Redbull.

    1. It does indeed count for the constructors too like all points @rekibsn

  5. As COTD says. It’s proven to be a failure. The main problemis what COTD says, plus in most cases, with 5 laps to go, you can pinpoint that driver who’s going to pit and rather easily get the bonus point.

    It’s brought nothing to the championship, I wish they got rid of it.

    1. The reason FLAP is not interesting (and therefore a poor concept because of its potential to unduly influence the title race) is symptomatic of many of the sport’s other problems – it quickly became predictable and formulaic.

      In today’s races, the drivers/cars are rarely flat out, which means driver error and unreliability are uncommon to say the least. The teams have simulated their strategies to the nth degree, the teams cannot radically develop their cars throughout the season (neither the engines) and many of the circuits are very similar.

      For me the sport has become pretty stale. A point for FLAP was never going to liven things up much but even that has quickly been worked out. There’s no jeopardy in verstappen or bottas going for it on a new set of tyres. But this is just the thin end of the wedge in terms of F1 losing its ability to thrill.

      I’d like to see narrower circuits that punish errors. I’d like to see cars that are unpredictable and difficult to drive and I don’t care one bit about lap times. I’d like to see innovation in car design. I’d like less sensitive aero. I’d like less ridiculous tyres.I’d like DRS to leave and never return. Is that really so much to ask?

      1. All of this was know up front @frood19. And it is not even true that it ever really livened up the action (exactly as most who knew what they were talking about predicted) anytime. Pretty sure the first time it came up, it was almost exacly the same kind of situation as what we had here. And hardly has it been any different.

        Because it ignores the reality you mention – the reason they don’t go as fast is not about not being able to, but about choosing not to in most instances. So only when it is more or less a free point to take do the teams give the go ahead to grab it.

    2. ColdFly (@)
      4th May 2021, 9:41

      I quite like the FLAP point (and being the odd opinion out here), @fer-no65.
      It has proven to be an addition to the sometimes boring end part of the races.
      In other sports and strategic races it is not uncommon to have extra point scoring options (e.g. bonus points in cycling), to create some additional action. I don’t mind it as long as it is on track action and is linked to being fastest.

      Also being able to go for FLAP requires to run a faster and smarter race before that. If the leader wants the extra point (or make sure his rivals don’t get it) he cannot just cruise up front, but he will need to build a gap to the cars behind.
      The same is valid for the others; they need to create the gap and make sure there is no gap in front. RBR made a mistake by ‘allowing’ Perez to drop almost 30s behind Bottas; he should have stayed within 25s.
      And we now learnt that you cannot simply pit when there are still 3 laps to go if you are following a car (he might do the same). Thus next time in these cases there is even more pressure as there is only 1 lap to do it.

      Interesting observation: Fans are vehemently against trialing extending quali from 1 lap to 100km as it loses the purity of showing what a driver can do over 1 lap, yet when (in the race) a point is available for the same 1 lap no-limits racing then it is not a good thing.
      No direct comparison, but I find that fans here are very quickly against testing new things.

      1. The “error” from 25 to 30 seconds was because traffic combined with a stupid Haas/mazespin manoeuvre that Perez cost a lot of time.
        It was not planned this way.

      2. @coldfly

        fans are vehemently against trialing extending quali from 1 lap to 100km as it loses the purity of showing what a driver can do over 1 lap, yet when (in the race) a point is available for the same 1 lap no-limits racing then it is not a good thing.

        But the answer is easy: in the race, only one or two drivers are in a position at the end of the race to be able to compete for fastest lap by pitting to put on new/soft tyres.
        My main issue with ‘sprint qualifying’ isn’t that we lose 1-lap qualifying as (under the proposed trial this year anyhow) that will be maintained: it’s the fact that it isn’t a sprint!! One hour is too long, it just becomes a half-distance standard race. It should be a 10-15 minute race with drivers having to battle over just a few laps.

        1. @david-br One hour? Is that the case? I think the whole show will fit into an hour like flying lap quali does, but I don’t see the cars racing for an hour. Isn’t it more like one stint such as there will be no pitting? I see them racing for half an hour with formation laps and preamble etc and then a post quali interview time, no?

  6. I’m still amazed at how negative most people are about the FLAP point. This race was a good example of why haivng this single point (which in all likelihood won’t affect the world championship winners most seasons) makes a positive difference. Imaging what would have happened in the race if there was no FLAP point – the three drivers at the front would have simply continued circulating, looking after the tyres and taking it easy without racing each other until the chequered flag fell – there’s no way any of them would have risked an unnecessary pit stop. With this innovation something different actually happened, two cars took a gamble to take an extra pit-stop – and we all know that things can and do go wrong in pit stops which mix things up (though not in this case). We then had two cars pushing to the limit and we didn’t know which of them would end up with the FLAP and got to see drivers on the edge with engines turned up and drivers pushing to the limit. Not only did we not know which of the two would take the point, creating some anticipation (from this race-within-a-race) there was also much greater pressure placed on these drivers to deliver and a higher chance that one could make a mistake (again not this time, but it will happen). We also saw that the teams haven’t got their strategy on this completely right yet – the fact that Mercedes pitted Bottas a lap too soon tells us that. The pit even discussed with LH whether he should/could do the same.

    This single point on offer gave us something of interest in what would otherwise have been a dull couple of laps and potentially offerst the chance of greater excitement if something goes wrong with either pit stop or drivers pushing too hard.

    1. @Dave I wholly agree with you.

    2. Agreed, FLAP was amazing benefit to entertainment at the end of the race…. track limits were the problem.

    3. The point for the fastest lap kinda ruined the exploding tyres GP from last year. Verstappen probably wouldn’t have stopped and would have overtaken Lewis for the win.

    4. @Dave (Thanks for COTD Keith et al.) I’m just saying the FLAP point tends to reward mediocrity. Did Bottas merit an extra point for his Sunday performance? No. He did OK in the race but he was able to go for the lap basically because Red Bull kept Perez out for so long in a failed attempt to slow down Hamilton. Is it entertaining? I really don’t know. Mildly interesting? It would be fairer – more based on merit – if drivers couldn’t pit to put on new tyres and get FLAP that way. But I recognize that it’s the danger of the pit stop going wrong that actually adds a bit of spice to it all.

    5. @Dave The same argument could then be made for fanboost. Great because it creates something? Points for fastest lap in free practice perhaps? Points for driver of the race?

      Just because a thing adds another element, doesn’t justify it or mean it’s any good. It’s a circular argument.

      1. @balue what? Not at all like Fan boost.

        Fan boost is an artificial external influence on the race; a popularity contest.

        FLAP can only be delivered by the driver and the team pulling everything together to make it work (if there’s the opportunity to do so).

        1. @justrhysism It was an argument against that it’s all fine just because it creates “something different”, which obviously fanboost does too.

  7. Rest in Peace Bobby.

  8. COTD perhaps has some point, but I don’t have a problem with the FL bonus point.

    1. I forgot: So the Spanish GP will essentially be like Monza + the Gulf region triple last season in that only people of a certain status can attend rather than the general public.

  9. R.I.P. Bobby Unser.

  10. Bobby Unser: Always remembered.

  11. COTD: Yup. It’s creating “artificial” excitement, but you can see who is going to get the fastest lap by simply looking at the gaps between the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. I hope the FIA will introduce a rule that the fastest lap must be set between certain laps in the race or other unnecessarily complicated rules, that would be a very F1 thing to do. (sarcasm)

  12. Everyone lamenting the point for fastest lap being a failure already. Has anyone actually seen a breakdown of the numbers of viewers switching off before the end of the race?
    I understand that currently it’s a bit drab because most races the top 3 are lapping most of whole field and are able to take an extra stop but that’s more to do with the formula being broken. Should the next set of rule changes work out differently and we see some closer racing the fastest lap might look a bit better?

  13. How the mighty have fallen. Seb now getting updates after #1 in the team tests them out.

    Good in quali, decenf race, no spins, best we can hope for.

    Alonso is showing more promise, after years away from the sport.

    1. @jureo All other noise and rhetoric aside about SV, the fact is if they only had one set of upgrades it only makes sense to give them to the one engrained on the team rather than the one new to the team who is still learning and working with the car and the team working to gelling with him, where Stroll is well past that part of the learning curve and can better suss out the effects of the upgrades. It is 100% the only sensible thing to do, so, nothing to do with #1 on the team other than by unavoidable circumstance that Stroll is the senior driver on the team in terms of experience on the team, and the team’s experience of him. Giving SV the upgrades if only one set was available would have been a wasted experiment, much less effectual.

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