Sebastian Vettel is in for a difficult debut grand prix with Aston Martin, according to ex-F1 racer Ralf Schumacher.
The four-time World Champion, who joined the newly rebranded Aston Martin F1 Team at the end of 2020 after being axed by Ferrari, got his first chance to give the AMR21 its proper shakedown during pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.
However, Vettel completed just 117 laps – the lowest of any driver – due to a series of mechanical issues which meant his car had to spend a lot of time in the garage instead of out on the track.
Consequently, Schumacher believes his fellow countryman is in for a difficult debut grand prix with Aston Martin.
“This is going to be a tough weekend, definitely,” Schumacher said.
“For Sebastian, it can almost be a bit of a pity, what happens now? He couldn’t really test all the new systems like the steering wheel.
“Poor Sebastian is now coming into the season in a completely new car, he has already said the steering feels different and he is not so happy. And then he is also deprived of the opportunity to adjust to it,” he added.
Continuing, Schumacher said he doesn’t expect Lance Stroll, Vettel’s team-mate and son of team owner Lawrence, to outqualify him at the season-opener later this month in Bahrain.
However, even if Vettel is outperformed by his younger team-mate, Schumacher doesn’t believe it would indicate that Aston Martin made a mistake in signing him.
Instead, he believes a poor showing from Vettel in his first race would simply be due to him having limited running time in pre-season testing and not yet having enough time to get integrated into his new team.
“I don’t think he will be slower in qualifying. But if he is, he doesn’t have to be thunderstruck.
“After how testing went, he should be allowed to do so, if that’s the case,” Schumacher concluded.
Earlier this month, former F1 driver Christian Klien warned that Vettel’s career “could be over quite quickly” if he is outperformed by Stroll over the course of the season.
“At Aston Martin, he has the chance to do a complete reset,” Klien said.
“But he has to have Lance Stroll under control. I think this will be very important for him.
“Sebastian always had psychological problems when his team-mate was very strong, like with Daniel Ricciardo or Charles Leclerc.
“If he doesn’t get Stroll under control, his career could be over quite quickly,” the ex-F1 driver added.