Otmar Szafnauer was hugely impressed by Sebastian Vettel in his first year at Aston Martin which reassured many of his promised qualities both in and out of the car.

Four-time champion Vettel is gearing up for his second season at the Silverstone-based outfit, a team which is also preparing for its second season under the Aston Martin name that succeeded the outfit’s most successful ever season in 2020, as Racing Point.

Vettel joined after a somewhat below-par experience at Ferrari where he failed to achieve his lifelong ambition of winning a world championship for the Scuderia, instead winning 14 races over a six year tenure which he himself describes as a failure in a way.

Having been informed of his removal from the team’s line-up before the delayed 2020 season had even got underway, Vettel endured a disastrous season in an underpowered SF1000 alongside superstar teammate Charles Leclerc.

He sought a seat for 2021 and soon Lawrence Stroll and Szafnauer came knocking, believing Vettel’s famously analytical traits, technical knowledge and sheer speed behind the wheel to be just what the team required to smooth the transition from pink to green.

Commenting on Vettel’s speed before his sudden departure from the team, former Aston Martin CEO and team principla Szafnauer explains the challenges he faced to adapt to the car quickly to get the most from the car.

“It took him four races or so to get to know us, to get to know the Aston Martin car, the Mercedes powertrain, and since he’s done a good job,” said Szafnauer. “If I remember back, it took about four races and I remember speaking to Sergio [Perez], and I think I’ve said this before, Sergio was saying look, I too moved teams, he moved from our team to Red Bull.

“Sergio himself thought it was going to take him about five races to get to grips with a whole new philosophy of car. Seb had the same thing, coming from Ferrari to us, a whole new philosophy, a whole new powertrain. The driveability of the powertrain was different, the steering rack, for example, was different which he didn’t like, which we had to adjust.

“There are many things, but if I remember back, I think it was about four races to where he got comfortable. He’s such a man of integrity, he works hard, great work ethic, leaves no stone unturned. The engineers like working with him, the mechanics love him as a person. He’s just a genuine guy. And that goes a long way in life.”

Szafnauer was also asked by written media whether Vettel’s traits had surprised him in any way, and which was his greatest quality as a driver alone. “I’ve never worked with him as close as I did in 2021, but I’ve known him for 15 years,” said Szafnauer. “Everyone else talked about him in the same way that I’m talking about him now that has worked closely with him, and socially I could see those traits as well.

“So was I surprised, no, but I was delighted to have what I thought he was confirmed by his actions. His greatest quality as a racing driver is just relentlessly working at getting quicker and quicker and quicker and he even does that in the race. When he starts a race, he will look at other drivers and lines they’ve taken to see if he can learn even within a race to be able to go quicker or save the tyres more, or whatever you have to do. That to me is his biggest asset,” summed up Szafnauer.

The story was written by Danny Herbert

Here’s news on Red Bull and Aston Martin agreement on Dan Fallows

Here’s Nico Hulkenberg on 2022 car after using Aston Martin sim