Aston Martin reveal target vs ‘formidable’ rivals


Can Aston Martin beat Ferrari and McLaren in first season back in Formula 1? That’s the target, says team boss Otmar Szafnauer in exclusive interview before 2021 season with Sky Sports; Watch full interview below

By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 10/02/21 6:27pm

Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer says the newly-rebranded team are targeting a coveted third in the championship this season but are wary of their “formidable” rivals – as well as 2021’s “significant” car changes.After morphing from Racing Point into Aston Martin – marking the famous British car brand’s return to the F1 grid for the first time in 61 years – the team have lofty ambitions, particularly after signing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to partner Lance Stroll. Szafnauer has previously revealed intent to become a “top team”, but in their first season as Aston Martin the Silverstone outfit are aiming for an achievement they narrowly missed out in 2020 – third place and F1’s top ‘midfield’ runner.”It will be the target for us,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports’ Craig Slater in an exclusive interview. “But I don’t think it will be easy – we’ve got some formidable competitors there.”Aston Martin’s team principal named two major threats in particular; historically F1’s most successful teams. One which is rebuilding after a well below-par season, and another that pipped Racing Point to third at 2020’s last race.”Ferrari, for sure, will work hard over the winter to do better than they did last year,” added Szafnauer. “McLaren get a new [Mercedes] power train, the same one that we have and I’m sure they did that for reasons of competitiveness. “And there’s some driver movements as well, so we’ll see how all that pans out. So there are some differences.”Szafnauer also said the 2021 changes to the car – which aren’t as drastic as previous seasons but are still leading to major re-designs – could make a big difference to the pecking order.”They took out big chunks of the floor for us to lose downforce, and depending on how the teams claw that downforce back, that’ll have a big impact.”How similar will the Aston Martin car be to Racing Point’s?Racing Point made headlines last season, and were even penalised, for designing their 2020 car – and more specifically the brake ducts – too similarly to the 2019 Mercedes, F1’s world champions and their engine-suppliers.Szafnauer said of Aston Martin’s 2021 car: “From a philosophy standpoint, running a low-rake car, that stays the same.”[But there are] significant aerodynamic changes – and because of that we had to redevelop the whole thing.” He also revealed that the team had designed a new chassis despite the carry-over from 2020. “This is the first time that a carry-over car has had many of its parts new,” he stated. “Although the philosophy is carry-over, we will still have a lot of new parts on the car, a lot of aerodynamic development and even a new chassis for us as well.”Although the car will be similar to last year, it’s predominantly new.”

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Hamilton’s new deal: Why only one year?


Why only a one-year deal for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and does that mean he could retire from F1 at the end of 2021? Team principal Toto Wolff answers the key questions after the world champion’s new deal is finally confirmed

By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/02/21 6:53pm

1:35

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insists ‘there was never a moment’ where the team believed Lewis Hamilton would not sign a new deal after he signed a one-year contract for the 2021 season

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff insists ‘there was never a moment’ where the team believed Lewis Hamilton would not sign a new deal after he signed a one-year contract for the 2021 season

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has explained why they have only agreed a one-year contract extension with Lewis Hamilton.
A deal for seven-time champion Hamilton to continue with Mercedes into a ninth season was finally announced on Monday, but its short-term nature caused surprise.Formal talks over video conferencing between Hamilton and Wolff only began in the week of Christmas and, with the world champion’s old deal lapsing at the start of 2021, the need to get an agreement in place for at least the new season quickly became imperative. “We jointly agreed on a one-year deal,” said Wolff, Mercedes’ F1 team principal and co-owner, in a virtual press conference after the deal was announced.”First of all there is a substantial regulation change in 2022. We also want to see how the world develops, and the company. 4:31 Craig Slater answers some of the key questions surrounding the news that Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract at Mercedes Craig Slater answers some of the key questions surrounding the news that Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract at Mercedes “On the other side, because we kept it very late… it was important to get it done as soon as possible. In that respect we thought let’s postpone the discussion about 2022 and onwards until a later stage in 2021.”Despite all manner of speculation in recent weeks about supposed aspects of the contract negotiations, Wolff insisted “the money topic wasn’t the sticking point” and that ultimately “it was more about ‘let us get going quickly for 2021′”.The Mercedes team principal also rubbished suggestions Hamilton had asked for a so-called ‘Verstappen clause’ – an effective veto on future team-mates beyond 2021.Expanding on the reasons for wanting more time to talk about 2022 and beyond, Wolff said: “There are uncertainties in the world that affect the way the sport can operate that have an influence on our revenue, on TV monies, on sponsorship income.”Daimler and Mercedes are in a huge transformation towards electric mobility and that means investment, So we are living in a financial reality different from what it was a few years ago.”But having said that, we are totally in line, Lewis and me, the wider group and Mercedes, about the situation. So there was never any discrepancy in opinion.”Could Hamilton retire at the end of 2021? 4:31 Craig Slater answers some of the key questions surrounding the news that Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract at Mercedes Craig Slater answers some of the key questions surrounding the news that Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one-year contract at Mercedes Although Hamilton has committed to a 15th season of Formula 1 and the pursuit of a record-breaking eighth world title this year, his medium-term future in the sport remains unresolved by Monday’s announcement.Hamilton said at the end of last year he was not yet certain how long he wanted to continue racing. But Wolff believes the 36-year-old can easily continue beyond this year.”As long as he enjoys racing, I think he’s very capable of going longer,” said Wolff.”He develops as a driver he looks after himself in terms of physical training and mental preparation, so I don’t think in terms of ability that ends in 2021. But at the end it’s his decision.”Wolff said they would enter into talks about 2022 “much earlier” than was the case last year. He reiterated while “Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him”, Mercedes also needed to think about their long-term driver options.Valtteri Bottas is also on a one-year deal, while highly-regarded protege George Russell, whose career is managed by Mercedes, is in the final year of a three-year term at Williams “Valtteri and Lewis have our 100 per cent commitment and loyalty for 2021, we will support them with everything we have,” explained Wolff.”We will then look beyond this year and say: ‘what is the line-up that we imagine in 2022 and onwards?’ “Our first discussions are going to be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values of loyalty and integrity but on the other side the young drivers are the future and therefore we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond.”If he was not already in contention before then, Russell firmly put himself in the shop window for 2022 after a starring role in Hamilton’s place at December’s Sakhir GP after the world champion contracted coronavirus.

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