Aston Martin F1 boss Otmar Szafnauer says the series’ 2021 regulations disadvantage low-rake runners, and denies there was an opportunity to vote.
Aston Martin earned just one point in 2021’s season opener, consistently appearing uncompetitive relative to where the team had been in the previous year. As per team boss Szafnauer, the regulation changes hurt the F1 outfit more than anyone.
With their last year’s idea to copy as much from Mercedes, it has cost them in 2021, as the German F1 outfit’s low-rake philosophy has seemingly lost the edge with the regulation changes. While the reigning champions have raw pace, Aston Martin doesn’t have it.
On top of that, they have a challenge to get Sebastian Vettel on his feet too. Over the course of the Bahrain GP, Aston Martin chief Szafnauer was most vocal about the said changes hurting them, thereby derailing their 2021 F1 campaign.
“After carefully analysing data from testing and this weekend, it is clear that the new-for-2021 aero regulations have impacted cars with a low-rake aero philosophy significantly more damagingly than cars with a high-rake aero philosophy,” said Szafnauer to media including F1, Sky Sports, Motorsport Network, Racefans and more.
“Specifically, the change in floor dimensions and profile at the rear of the cars has had a profound negative effect on the performance of cars with low-rake aero philosophy, such as our car and the Mercedes car. It is not only us who are speaking about this issue – Toto spoke about it in the FIA press conference.
“We cannot make a change to a high-rake aero philosophy car even if we wanted to, and neither can Mercedes, because the suspension on this year’s cars has been homologated. When we last raced here in Bahrain – just four months ago – we were heading for a podium, on merit, before a power unit issue ended Checo’s race.
“We are not anywhere near that kind of performance here now, and the direct cause of that performance drop-off is the new-for-2021 aero regulations, imposed on all the teams. If you compare the qualifying times between those two races here in Bahrain, now and four months ago, it looks like the high-rake aero philosophy cars have gained around a second per lap compared to the low-rake aero philosophy cars.
“So Mercedes and ourselves are the teams worst affected. I’m not happy. And when I say I’m not happy, I mean I’m not happy for our two great drivers; I’m not happy for the 500 great men and women who designed, built and are now running our new car; and I’m not happy for our sponsor-partners or our fans, either.
“Having said that, we will of course now work hard to make up as much of the performance deficit as possible in the upcoming races,” summed up Szafnauer, before adding about the meetings held last year, where this point was raised but didn’t gain traction as much it should have to prevent it from happening or at least lessen the damage.
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” started Szafnauer. “But it was pointed out last year by the low-rake runners, that this would have a bigger effect than on the high rake runners. And we were correct. At the time, the regulations were being made this was pointed out. Number one, there was never a vote. Number two, there was an indicative vote.
“So that was just at the technical under committee, that all the technical directors had to have an indicative vote, and three teams voted against it. You’ve got to remember only two teams have a low-rake concept. So even one of the high-rake teams voted against it. So nowhere near unanimity. And it wouldn’t have even passed on the eight out of 10 rule. Because three voted against,” summed up Szafnauer.
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