Aston Martin chief race engineer Tom McCullough praises Sebastian Vettel’s adaption to the F1 team and Lance Stroll’s consistency so far in 2021.

With 11 races done in the 2021 F1 season, Vettel is 12th, while Stroll is 14th in the drivers’ championship, with Aston Martin seventh in the constructors’ standings. It has been a decent season so far highlighted, of course, by second place for the German at Baku.

The big disappointment was his disqualification at Hungary, but overall, his progress has been pretty solid since the winter testing, especially having changed teams. He has gelled well, with Stroll also continuing on his upward stride, as McCullough says so.

“We have been impressed by both Lance and Sebastian so far this year,” he said. “Lance is a very hard worker. He has done a large number of sessions in our simulator, and his contribution has been very significant.”

Stroll is part of the family at this stage, but as noted above, Vettel was the newbie to the team after six years at Ferrari. After years of doing things one way and being part of a different culture, it was new beginnings, a new team and most importantly a new car, it was a slight baptism of fire for the German.

“Our ‘new boy’, Sebastian, was at first disadvantaged by his initial unfamiliarity with the way our car operates and feels, then by the unreliability that he suffered in the pre-season test in Bahrain,” said McCullough. It was a tough start for Vettel after a very difficult 2020 at Ferrari, but despite that, he knuckled down and got on with.

His undoubted experience, knowledge and know-how can only be a plus. “He has worked very diligently since the start of the season, in our simulator at the factory and at the circuits, to help us analyse our previous races with a view to preparing for our upcoming races in the best way possible,” added McCullough.

It’s been a fairly consistent season, as a team they have failed to score on four occasions.  Their target for the second half is to bridge the gap to AlphaTauri. As a unit, McCullough is quite happy with the Aston Martin operation, especially with the change they went.

“As a team, we are operating well,” he said. “We do not get everything right, no team does, but we racked up nine points-scoring results in the 11 races up to and including Silverstone, our home event, which is a very creditable effort.”

Despite being two places behind Vettel in drivers’ standings race, Stroll has actually been the more consistent, it is also hard to believe that this is his fifth season of F1. “It is worth noting that Lance was responsible for six of those nine points-scoring results: a very consistent performance for a driver who is still only 22 years old.”

The German’s podium, of course, has been the highlight of the season for the “Green Machine”, but through no fault of his own, Stroll was also heading for a strong finish at a track where had a podium in his debut season, in Baku.

“Equally, although the highlight of our first 10 races was undoubtedly Sebastian’s excellent second place in Azerbaijan, it is worth remembering that, but for an accident whose causes were totally outside his control, Lance was also heading for an extremely strong finish on the tricky streets of Baku that afternoon,” said McCullough.

So all in all, Aston Martin have had a “solid” first half of the season. They can be pleased despite the regulation changes hurting their low-rake car and in fairness, they have been unlucky at times. There is currently a battle with Alpine and AlphaTauri for fifth.

The story was written by Neil Farrell

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