Aston Martin CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes Formula 1's midfield fight will be tighter than ever in 2021.

The Silverstone-based outfit narrowly missed out on third in the constructors' championship in 2020, losing it to McLaren in the final race of the season. 

Having been rebranded as Aston Martin for 2021, expectations and ambitions are higher than ever for a team that was often working on a shoestring budget in its Force India days.

 

 

With Ferrari expected to have a resurgence in 2021, McLaren switching to Mercedes power and Alpine signing two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso,  Szafnauer acknowledges Aston Martin needs to be wary of the threat behind it rather than simply looking ahead to Red Bull and Mercedes.

“I think it would be foolhardy for us to not worry about those behind us and just look ahead of us,” Szafnauer said. “I think we’ve got to do a good job. The midfield is ever increasing in competitiveness and getting much more difficult. I can’t see Ferrari staying sixth forever, so they’ll be really difficult to beat this year and beyond. McLaren beat us last year into third, they’ll be difficult.

“Renault [Alpine] have the might of a manufacturer behind them as well. They are not going to be easy with Alonso coming in, a two-time world champion. So it will be very, very difficult for us to finish at the top of that midfield. It’s not going to be easy.

“At the same time, we want to look at the guys that finished ahead of us and get closer to the Mercedes and Red Bull. We want to get closer to them as well. So the task is great but we are up for the challenge and we will work hard and do the best we can to achieve that.”

Racing Point ended 2020 strongly with Sergio Perez winning in Sakhir. The Mexican should have scored another podium in Bahrain a week before but suffered an engine failure in the closing laps.

Szafnauer says maintaining the same level of performance it showed at the end of last season would constitute success for Aston Martin in 2021. 

“From a car perspective, the car has changed a lot like Andrew [Green] said,” Szafnauer added. “In a year where we were meant to limit the amount of development that was done in order to save money, I’m surprised how much the car has changed. The tyres have changed, the aerodynamic rules changed late which drives a lot of aero development work and costs.

“The car has changed. So for us, success would be starting the season where we left off. We were very competitive in the races towards the end of last year. Unfortunately, we had a few crucial engine failures towards the end which meant we didn’t extract all the points we could have out of that performing car.

“So if we can start with that car performance where we left off, however, do a better job scoring points more regularly, and be a more consistent points scorer, I think that would be a success for us.” 

 

 

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