Due to being the higher-placed driver in the championship, Stroll was given the latest aerodynamic package developed by Aston Martin for the Portuguese Grand Prix as the Silverstone-based outfit continues its quest to understand and improve its difficult AMR21 car.

Aston Martin performance engineering director Tom McCullough revealed that Vettel’s race pace had been compromised relative to teammate Stroll due to not running the new upgrades at Portimao, as the four-time world champion fell from 10th to 13th, one place ahead of Stroll - who recovered from 17th.

“In the race Sebastian slipped from his P10 grid slot to a P13 finish, while Lance climbed from his P17 grid slot to a P14 finish,” he said.

“You do not have to be a skilled mathematician to realise that their race performances were therefore arithmetical opposites, and the reason for that is that, without aero updates, Sebastian was unable to stay ahead of three cars that had qualified behind him, while, with aero updates, Lance was able to move ahead of three cars that had qualified ahead of him.”

McCullough also explained why Aston Martin was unable to install the upgrade on both cars at last weekend’s race.

“Ideally, you always want to be able to update both your drivers’ cars simultaneously, but that is not always possible,” he added. “Aero updates take time to invent, test, prove and manufacture, and are made in series, not in parallel.

“So sometimes you find you have time to manufacture only one set before it is time to transport the cars to the next Grand Prix. But by next weekend’s race, in Barcelona, we expect to have made enough new parts to equip both drivers’ cars with aero updates.”

Vettel said he will be looking for a repeat of his Q3 qualifying performance in Spain given how difficult overtaking can be at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

“This weekend, I’ll have the upgrade Lance used in Portugal – which he felt was promising – so I’m looking forward to experiencing it for myself,” Vettel said.

“Looking at the last race, it’s clear that we have better race pace than single-lap performance, so we’ll be looking to make improvements on Saturday to give us the best chance of points on Sunday.

“We all know Sunday afternoons at Barcelona can be tricky for overtaking, so it’s important that we maximise our opportunities where we can.”

Vettel said Aston Martin was right to give Stroll the updates first considering he is more familiar with the car’s characteristics, with the German continuing to get up to speed at the team following his winter switch from Ferrari.

"Obviously he felt a lot more comfortable straight away with the car compared to me,” he said. “We’re still learning about the car.

"I think obviously it's going to be a long season, but these couple of races now are very crucial to get on top of it. We're still changing a lot of things one session to another to explore the limits.”

 

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