Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack has outlined his team’s development plan for the 2022 season, and wants to maintain a continued flow of evolution this year.
Aston Martin started the season horribly in Bahrain as Sebastian Vettel missed the race having contracted COVID-19, and Nico Hulkenberg managed to out-qualify Lance Stroll, before falling back in the race.
Neither driver scored points in the first two rounds of the season, but there were hopes for improved fortunes upon Vettel’s return in Australia.
However, there were four crashes between himself and Stroll over the weekend in a car that appeared to be handling horribly, but they finally grabbed points in the rain-affected Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The four-time world champion was set for another top 10 finish but for a crash with Mick Schumacher in Miami, leaving the door open for Stroll to finish 10th himself.
There have been gradual but perennial improvements for the Silverstone side but they are still ninth in the Constructors’ Championship having struggled to find consistency.
Further, an erratic car that handles poorly is not a good one to bring to a bumpy, twisty circuit with fast corners and plenty of undulation like the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, so a B-spec car will be introduced this weekend, although there is ambiguity as to whether both drivers will receive the upgrade.
Krack is aware that the team need to prioritise their aerodynamic package, as poor handling only leads to more accidents, which takes more out of their $140 million budget and subsequently puts a blocker on development.
“The biggest and most important point is aero,” said the German.
“The second is the weight of the car and the third is ‘How can we give the drivers better feedback on the steering?’ That’s why there were so many incidents in the last few races.
“Our drivers flew off the track a lot which is not normal.”
Krack confirmed that, despite the added financial stringency and the damage already incurred this year, he wants to come to every grand prix with some fresh parts on the car that will help with stability, weight and pace.
“We want to bring updates to every race, sometimes smaller, sometimes larger. It is important for us to continuously make progress,” he explained.
“I think we’ll be in better shape in a few races, but it would be silly to say ‘this happens in race X and this happens in race Y.
“Even if you bring new parts, you have to understand them first.”
With Vettel, according to some reports, potentially not receiving the upgrade this weekend, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher predicts a difficult race head for his compatriot unless rain has a role to play in proceedings.
“It will be a disastrous weekend for Sebastian Vettel – I’m sure of it,” he said, quoted by the Kolner Express Newspaper.
“All of the car’s weaknesses will be exposed in Barcelona, unless he does a rain dance.”
Vettel’s contract with the British side is up at the end of the 2022 season, at such time Schumacher predicts the four-time champion will retire as more and more young, hungry drivers begin to appear.
“I don’t think Sebastian will be at Aston Martin beyond the year. The project went in the wrong direction,” he added.
“My prognosis is that he will retire at the end of the year and devote himself to all of the environmental issues that are so important to him.
“I doubt he’ll get the chance[to move to another team]. Formula 1 moves so fast and so many guys are coming up.
“Sebastian is still at a decent level, but he’s just not the future. If a team does decide to reorient itself, it wouldn’t do that with Sebastian.”
Vettel and Stroll have managed three points finished between them in 2022, and sit only above Williams, for whom Alex Albon has scored three points.