Aston Martin reveal big 2021 target in first season back in F1 against 'formidable' rivals
Can Aston Martin beat Ferrari and McLaren in first season back in Formula 1? That's the target, says team boss Otmar Szafnauer in exclusive interview before 2021 season with Sky Sports; Watch full interview below
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 11/02/21 9:44am
Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer says the newly-rebranded team are targeting a coveted third in the championship this season but are wary of their "formidable" rivals - as well as 2021's "significant" car changes.
After morphing from Racing Point into Aston Martin - marking the famous British car brand's return to the F1 grid for the first time in 61 years - the team have lofty ambitions, particularly after signing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to partner Lance Stroll.
Szafnauer has previously revealed intent to become a "top team", but in their first season as Aston Martin the Silverstone outfit are aiming for an achievement they narrowly missed out in 2020 - third place and F1's top 'midfield' runner.
"It will be the target for us," Szafnauer told Sky Sports' Craig Slater in an exclusive interview. "But I don't think it will be easy - we've got some formidable competitors there."
Aston Martin's team principal named two major threats in particular; historically F1's most successful teams. One which is rebuilding after a well below-par season, and another that pipped Racing Point to third at 2020's last race.
"Ferrari, for sure, will work hard over the winter to do better than they did last year," added Szafnauer. "McLaren get a new [Mercedes] power train, the same one that we have and I'm sure they did that for reasons of competitiveness.
"And there's some driver movements as well, so we'll see how all that pans out. So there are some differences."
Szafnauer also said the 2021 changes to the car - which aren't as drastic as previous seasons but are still leading to major re-designs - could make a big difference to the pecking order.
"They took out big chunks of the floor for us to lose downforce, and depending on how the teams claw that downforce back, that'll have a big impact."
How similar will the Aston Martin car be to Racing Point's?
Racing Point made headlines last season, and were even penalised, for designing their 2020 car - and more specifically the brake ducts - too similarly to the 2019 Mercedes, F1's world champions and their engine-suppliers.
Szafnauer said of Aston Martin's 2021 car: "From a philosophy standpoint, running a low-rake car, that stays the same.
"[But there are] significant aerodynamic changes - and because of that we had to redevelop the whole thing."
He also revealed that the team had designed a new chassis despite the carry-over from 2020.
"This is the first time that a carry-over car has had many of its parts new," he stated. "Although the philosophy is carry-over, we will still have a lot of new parts on the car, a lot of aerodynamic development and even a new chassis for us as well.
"Although the car will be similar to last year, it's predominantly new."