The Aston Martin team has been the subject of intense criticism from many Formula 1 observers after the setbacks of its two drivers last week at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
This team, led by Montreal billionaire Lawrence Stroll, completely failed to get into the first round of the season when his sons Lance and Nico Hülkenberg failed to collect a point on Sunday, after unsuccessfully complete the first round (Q1) of qualification the previous day.
Analyst on behalf of German television Sport1, Ralf Schumacher is particularly angry with the Quebec driver to whom he directly suggests changing jobs or rather … hobbies.
“Lance Stroll’s performance in Bahrain was awkward,” said Michael’s brother, a six -time F1 winner in the early 2000s.
Slower than Hulkenberg
Lawrence Stroll, critic
Schumacher notably mentioned the fact that Stroll caught up with his qualifying teammate over the weekend who, incidentally, had never driven a new single-seater (completely redesigned in 2022) before the first free practice on Friday. in Bahrain.
The walk, however, participated in six days of exam preparation, the last three being fixed at the Sakhir circuit, the scene of the first stopover of the season next week.
Recall that Hülkenberg was given the Aston Martin wheel after the current driver, Sebastian Vettel, was suspended from racing due to a positive result for COVID.
“The stroll should seriously consider finding another hobby,” Schumacher said. After five seasons in F1, he is still inconsistent and does not seem to be making progress in qualifying. Pretty embarrassing …
“Despite the fact that he didn’t know the new car, Nico did things right,” he added. He made his companion look bad again. »
The German driver was able to overtake the Stroll by more than two -tenths of a second in the first round of qualifying. On the other hand, in the race, Stroll changed the tide by finishing 12that rank, while his partner did not reach the end until 17at square.
GP analyst at the French Canal + channel, Jacques Villeneuve did not miss the opportunity to criticize Lance Stroll and his father’s team for the poor results of this organization that, in 2020 (under the name Racing Point), however, it lost until last season’s race for third place in the final constructors ’classification, eventually losing it to McLaren.
However, the 1997 world champion added a layer to it last Sunday after the test in Bahrain.
“This team has been copying Mercedes for years,” Villeneuve said, and it gives us the impression that it doesn’t have the ability to design its own single-seater. Their new car was born bad and I’m afraid that it will not be competitive.
“To get good results and to compete with the best teams on the board, he continues, you need more than ambition and… money. »
A boss who is too demanding?
In the off-season, Aston Martin lost its sporting director, Otmar Szafnauer, who is now in the same role on the French Alpine team. This experienced engineer justified his departure by declaring in almost uncovered words that the boss, Lawrence Stroll, was taking up too much space.
“A friend of mine, Szafnauer said, reminded me that the Catholic Church has only one Pope. But when you have two, it doesn’t work.
“It’s time for me to stop and leave the Aston Martin to … Pope,” he concluded. The message could not be clearer.
Aston Martin still deprived of Vettel?
Absent from Bahrain last week after being declared positive for COVID, Sebastian Vettel is still waiting to get the green light to participate in the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix, which will be contested on Sunday.
According to a press release released last night, the Aston Martin team indicated that the German pilot “has not yet taken the negative test required to fly to Jeddah. So we will postpone our decision until Friday morning to give Sebastian of every opportunity “.
In all likelihood, if Vettel is unable to attend the first free practice session, he will not run the team in the middle of the weekend and his compatriot Nico Hülkenberg who, as in Bahrain last week, will replace him.
Hülkenberg proved to be a prime replacement for the stable run by Lawrence Stroll. In 2020, he paid for the absence of Sergio Pérez twice and the absence of Lance Stroll, after falling ill with COVID.
Fast and dangerous
Inaugurated last year, the Jeddah circuit is considered not only the fastest city circuit in F1, but also the second fastest in the season after Monza, Italy.
The track, with 27 bends, has undergone several changes since the great F1 circus arrived during the inaugural event, just four months ago.
But, for some drivers who walked the circuit yesterday, these changes to improve safety were not enough. It remains fast and above all dangerous.
“We put back some protective walls to improve visibility in some corners, but we should have done more,” said Carlos Sainz, from the Ferrari team.
The race was delayed twice last year (red flags) due to accidents. The scenario is therefore likely to be repeated on Sunday.