Aston Martin Formula 1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer feels it is “way too early” to suggest that Sebastian Vettel cannot rediscover his best form in light of his disappointing display at the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Vettel endured a miserable debut for his new team in Bahrain, finishing 15th after picking up a 10-second time penalty for clumsily ramming into the back of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine at Turn 1. 

That came after the four-time world champion was eliminated from the opening segment of qualifying with a time only good enough for 18th before he was relegated to the back of the grid after being penalised for failing to respect fellow flag rules in Q1. 

Vettel accumulated a total of five penalty points across the weekend but Szafnauer was still keen to focus look on the positives, highlighting the German’s pace was on a par with teammate Lance Stroll, who went on to take Aston Martin’s only point in 10th. 

“I think it’s very, very early to say that,” Szafnauer replied when asked if he felt Vettel was already facing a battle against perceptions following his dire final few years at Ferrari. “We only have one data point, one race. 

“Yeah it wasn’t the best race but if you look at the positives, he had to start last, he was running in the top 10 for a while, felt good in the car. 

“I had to leave the debrief so I don’t know what his feedback is. But from watching it from the pit wall and looking at his lap times, and his lap times were not that dissimilar to Lance’s, who’s been here for a while and knows the car well, and ended up finishing in a relatively decent position and at times was pretty competitive on medium and soft, and so was Seb. 

“I’ve got to talk to him. But it’s way too early to say that.”

And Szafnauer remains convinced Vettel will get up to speed once he had more time to adjust to his new car, a process which was hampered by a troubled pre-season test. 

"The car he’s driving now is totally different from what he drove before, from car characteristics, power train characteristics, a lot of things,” he explained. 

“He only really felt happy with the car - getting to grips with it, making set-up changes to suit him - in qualifying, when he had the yellow flags. 

“It’s hard to know, but it’s really early days. He didn’t do a lot of laps in winter testing, we only had three days and he had to share those days with Lance and he seemed to have all the problems. 

“So I’m still confident we’ll get Seb there. He started last and made his way up but like I said we struggled on the hard tyre and he went on the hard tyre early so we’ve got to understand that. I’ll have to talk to him, but I think he’s getting there.”

 

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