F1: Vettel insists he can win races at Aston Martin
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Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he is not yet entirely comfortable behind the wheel at Aston Martin after enduring a shocking debut for his new team at last month’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. The experienced German driver struggled to get to grips with the machinery underneath him and crossed the line in 15th place, five places behind team-mate Lance Stroll, to cap off a forgettable weekend in the heat of the desert.
Vettel’s time with Ferrari came to an underwhelming conclusion at the end of last season, with the Italian outfit’s failure to provide a competitive car hindering his efforts in the cockpit throughout the campaign.
The 33-year-old will have been hoping for a fresh start with Aston Martin at the Bahrain International Circuit, but he was unable to match the performance of Stroll, who scored the team’s first point of the new year, over the course of the weekend.
The former Red Bull man was eliminated in the first qualifying session before picking up a five-place penalty to ensure that he would start the race from the back of the grid.
His fortunes failed to improve the next day, with Vettel struggling to climb up the field and receiving a ten-second time penalty for an avoidable collision with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
Vettel has since claimed that more time is needed in order to figure out how to extract the very best from his new car, conceding that there are plenty of issues that need to be resolved before Aston Martin can establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
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“It’s probably not the weekend we were looking for, but there’s a lot of things that we learned in the race that we need to address,” he told Motorsport.com.
“We will see how quickly we can fix them, but I’m not at home in the car. There’s a lot of things that are fighting me so that I can’t really focus on driving.
“We need to address them and try and fix them.”
Despite his poor start to the season, Vettel stressed that he is quickly adapting to his new surroundings and is optimistic that his new team will be on an upward trajectory in the near future.
“Yeah very good, I feel really good,” he added.
“Obviously, I’m a bit sorry for such a bad weekend because I know how much preparation goes in before the start of the season.
“On the other hand, it can only go up from here. As I said, we learned a lot of things so it’s a lot of work ahead of us but it is what it is and we have to tackle it step-by-step.
“It’s probably not the start of the season that we wanted, but I think the next couple of races will be very good for us to calm things down.”
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer rushed to Vettel’s defence after the conclusion of last weekend’s Grand Prix, highlighting the number of issues suffered by his new driver during a disappointing pre-season testing campaign.
“It’s really early days,” Szafnauer told reporters. “He didn’t do a lot of laps in winter testing, we only had three days of winter testing.
“He had to share those days with Lance [Stroll] 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, he went on the hard tyre pretty early, so we’ve got to understand that.
“I’ll have to talk to him, I think he’s getting there.”
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