Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Suzuka, 2023

Aston Martin credit Vettel’s input in the car his replacement took to eight podiums

Formula 1

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Aston Martin have credited Sebastian Vettel’s input during 2022 into this year’s car for contributing to their climb up the order in Formula 1.

Vettel raced for Aston Martin in 2021 and 2022, and the team came seventh in the constructors’ championship in both campaigns. Although it took just six races after joining for Vettel to make the podium, he only had one top-five finish in the 36 grands prix that followed and he retired from F1 at the end of last year.

Aston Martin scored five times as many points in 2023 as they did last year, making the podium eight times courtesy of Vettel’s replacement Fernando Alonso.

Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s team principal, said Vettel “brought a lot” to to the Silverstone-based squad and “it was not only the input in the car but also the input in working methods, in the way we do things”. Tom McCullough, the team’s performance director, pointed to how Vettel tried to make his experience of racing for Red Bull and Ferrari applicable to Aston Martin to help them improve.

“When he joined us, he’d come from two championship-winning teams. At that time he brought a lot of small details,” said McCullough.

“He is a relentless worker as well. We often say the driver’s the best sensor in the car, and a lot of the development, you’ve got a wind tunnel, you’ve got simulators, offline simulations, CFD, [but] a driver whose backside’s connected to the car well can say ‘this is the phase of these kind of corners that I know we’re struggling maybe more than others’. And then that allows you to go dig into the data.

“For sure, we didn’t give him a good enough car over the two years he was here. By the end of his second year, we were making progress. But I felt for him that he’s not really got any of the benefit of this year’s car. Over the years that often happens. I’ve been involved with that process myself in the past.”

McCullough worked at Williams and Sauber before joining Force India, which later became Aston Martin. He left Williams at the end of 2012.

That season Williams claimed their first win in over seven years with Pastor Maldonado at the Spanish Grand Prix. However Maldonado’s team mate of the previous season, Rubens Barrichello, had been dropped following a two-year stint in which his experience helped push the team forward.

McCullough likened his situation to Vettel’s. “At Williams, when we had Rubens Barrichello driving for us, he put so much work in during the 2010 and ’11 seasons, as far as to say ‘this is what you need to do, this what you should be doing’ on so many areas of the car.

“The 2012 car, which unfortunately he didn’t end up driving, was the result of a lot of the hard work he’d done. So that is very much the case.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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18 comments on “Aston Martin credit Vettel’s input in the car his replacement took to eight podiums”

  1. Come to think of it, Rubens in that 2012 Williams would’ve been great.

    1. Unlike Maldonado who won that race then went on a 9 race run without scoring a single point. He finished in the points only 5 times that year while Bruno Senna finished in the points 10 times. One of the most wasted cars in memory. I know Rubens was passed his best at this point, but would have surely performed better than either of these two across the season.

      1. someone or something
        7th December 2023, 11:13

        I find it a bit weird how you manage to single out Maldonado as an underperformer, and somehow praise Senna, whose pace was nowhere near Maldonado’s. Sure, Maldonado wasted too many good opportunities, but without his pace, we wouldn’t even know that the Williams had any sort of potential.
        Fully agree that Barrichello should’ve kept his seat, though. Bruno Senna’s strengths were his surname and financial backing, and not too much else. Him replacing Barrichello had nothing to do with Rubinho being past his prime or whatever, it was purely a financial decision.

        1. I did not praise Bruno I simply stated a fact. He scored points 10 times to Maldonado’s 5.

          I did not say he drove extremely well, or that he was the faster of the pair. He wasn’t. Maldonado was. Bruno was consistent but slower, Maldonado was fast but outright refused to learn from his mistakes.

          I focused on Maldonado because he won the race and left the larger impression on F1. I felt comparing what Rubens could have done with that car to him is a bigger statement than the consistent but ultimately slower performances of Bruno.

      2. It wasn’t wasted per sey.. Maldonado is pretty quick, and he used that skill when the opportunity presented itself. I believe it was only one other race where that Williams was in contention for a podium and Maldo screwed up, but otherwise I cant see where Rubens would have grabbed a big result over Maldo.

        1. Rubens had a small edge over Maldo in 2011. But I think Bottas would have been an even better choice. He buried Maldo as a rookie in 2013. And was their reserve driver in 2012.

    2. I know, I remember a lot of people saying at the time that 2012 Williams was a lot better than it looked to outsiders, but it just had 2 drivers who couldn’t show off what it could actually do on a consistent basis.

      1. Bruno Senna was awful. Just no pace whatsoever. His best qualifying was something like 11th while Maldonado was competing for top 5 positions frequently.

  2. There was never a doubt about Vettel’s ability, experience and leadership skills when it comes to building a team, his hunger for racing on the other hand was absent since 2018.

    1. Yes, he had a few good races after that, but not on a consistent basis.

    2. Although I remember Aston Martin saying they were going to build a car from scratch to meet Alonso’s driving style so I’m not so sure how Vettel could have had that much if any impact.

  3. Classy of Krack to give credit to VET

  4. We all know how much Vettel taught Newey and how far he took Ferrari… Fans and media need to move pass the myth of drivers leading to car development going badly or favorably.

    Beyond weekend setups, their input is equal to very little in the success of platform development in the modern F1 age. When the sim tools didn’t exist or were rudimentary and mechanical grip and compliance was more important than aero, drivers were critical to development. Those days are long gone.

    1. not if they know how a faster car should handle and they had the best team building around him for a number of years. I don’t really get excited about his politics, but I am sure hes not stupid when it comes to winning races or understanding whats between his hands. Aston were very sharp at the beginning of last year, some of that has to be due to vettel, and it looks like they even reversed themself after mid season, which means perhaps vettel > alonso….

      1. Its just a shame Aston have to run Stroll and they ditched Vettel. Alonso + Vettel would be an amazing lineup and great for F1. Rich kids come and go, but I doubt very much of them will stand the test of time like those two.

      2. lol, you’ve long been hot on Vettel > Alonso. You’re part of a vanishingly small demo.

    2. IMO, I don’t think Vettel taught Newey anything. Newey’s design suited him as it would have many other drivers. Once the car was modified (after Vettel won his WDC’s), he was average and that is being kind. In fact RIC outperformed him which is probably why he jumped to Ferrari and he wasn’t exactly stellar there.

      Overall I think Seb is over rated – yes he is very good but not in ALO or HAM’s league. The greats can adapt to any car and Seb simply couldn’t do that.

      1. Verstappen is way better than all of them though. I think Alo is overrated. At least in his comeback. Ocon has been more impressive with him than he has been with either Ricciardo or Gasly. This also shows how awful Lance Stroll is.

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