Aston Martin left Melbourne with zero Formula 1 Championship points, but with a hefty repair bill after multiple crashes from both drivers with team principal Mike Krack labelling the weekend as frustrating, a one to forget.
The Green Team’s woes continued down under, with a car that is a disaster on all fronts – other than the looks of course – which Lawrence Stroll’s squad seem unable to sort out, despite all the money the Canadian billionaire threw at them to become a Championship-contending team, with the hope that his son Lance wins the Championship for them.
Coupled with their lack of performance at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, the string of crashes the team had over the course of the weekend, not to mention reliability problems that hit Sebastian Vettel in FP1 on Friday, resulted in an embarrassing showing for Aston Martin, who have promised so much up to now.
The team’s principal Mike Krack, said: “We had a frustrating end to a weekend to forget. Sebastian had an accident on the exit of Turn Four, and was taken to the Medical Centre for precautionary checks, but I am glad to say he is OK.”
Vettel hurt by lack of experience in the AMR22
That was the second crash the German suffered over the course of his weekend at Albert Park, as he first binned his AMR22 during FP3, the repairs taking too much time that he could only set one lap in Q1 good for 17th.
Having missed FP2 as his new power unit wasn’t installed on time, Vettel is clearly struggling with the evil-handling green car which he hasn’t driven since the Bahrain pre-season tests due to his COVID illness.
At one point in the race he had an off and said on the team radio: “Sorry for that, it’s so difficult to judge the car under braking,” which speaks volumes about the car’s performance, as despite Vettel’s deteriorating form, he is still better than this, as his races in Baku, Monaco, and Hungary in 2021 showed.
Vettel said after the race: “My lack of race experience with this car did not help today. I was pushing a little too hard and I lost the car on the kerbs at Turn Four and could not prevent the impact, which is very frustrating.
“Every lap in race conditions counts because this was my first time racing this car, so it is a shame not to have completed the race.
“We know that the car is challenging, but we are continuing to search for solutions to add more performance,” the four-time champion added.
“Things did not go our way this week, but it is time to move on and I am confident that we can come back stronger at Imola,” he concluded.
Stroll not giving his team a break
Lance Stroll on the other hand did not make things any easier for his team, starting with his crash in FP3 putting his mechanics in a frenzy to get the car ready in time for qualifying, only to go and have that silly qualifying crash with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, merely minutes after exiting the garage, for which he received a three-place grid drop for the race, not like that would have had any impact, as he was already starting last.
In the race, Stroll was handed a five-second time penalty for weaving on the straights while defending, and despite his running in the top ten at some point, he failed to score any points in the end.
Stroll said in the team’s post-race briefing: “We did not quite have the pace for points today, although we were able to defend a position inside the top 10 for a while late on. I think we had the right idea with our strategy by running the majority of the race on the Hard tyre, but we will look over the data and see what else we can learn.”
Commenting on his penalty, the 23-year-old said: “The five-second penalty was frustrating, even though it did not change our final race position.
“I caught Valtteri [Bottas] after the Virtual Safety Car and made up a place so it was frustrating to receive a penalty for weaving.
At least, the boss’s son spared a thought to his poor Aston Martin crew as he added: “I also want to say thank you to the team once again: everybody did a tremendous job to get the cars repaired this weekend.
“We will keep our heads up and dig deep to try to extract more from the car in the races to come,” the one-time pole sitter concluded.
Can Aston Martin recover?
The only positive Aston Martin can take from their weekend in Melbourne is that they have a dedicated crew, on whom they can rely to deliver under pressure, as proven my the multiple repair jobs they did over the weekend.
But what next for the struggling Astons? Well as Krack said: “From here we will go home to Silverstone where we will work hard to prepare for Imola, where we want and expect to have a better race than we have had here.”
But will they have a better race? And are there any solutions in the pipeline for the appallingly slow AMR22? How come a team that was so good in punching over its weight on a lower budget under the Force India guise struggle so miserably with all the funding and facilities it now has?
The most serious concern is the reports that team owner Lawrence Stroll is naturally not happy with his team’s performance, and that he is personally getting more involved in running the team, which is not a smart move when you have a person in the form of Martin Whitmarsh running the show.
Stroll senior should let Whitmarsh, a proven entity in F1, get on with his work, and give him the time he needs along with full autonomy in running the team, and taking the tough decisions. F1 is not the fashion business…