Sebastian Vettel admits that he is “lacking a bit of pace” and that his Aston Martin needs more downforce to compete higher up the field.
The team has had a disappointing start to the season, falling back in the standings after earning a pole position and a race win last season as Racing Point – to the point where former team boss Colin Kolles says the team’s staff are “demoralised” under owner Lawrence Stroll.
While Vettel says he feels more comfortable in his car after receiving upgrades in Spain that had been trialled on Lance Stroll’s car in Portimao, the two Astons came home P11 and P13 respectively at the weekend.
“Well, more comfortable,” he said to Motorsport.com after the Spanish Grand Prix, when asked how he feels in his car. “But I’m lacking really a bit of pace to fight for points.
“I think [on Sunday], with hindsight, maybe here and there we could have done something different, but I need to have a look. Overall, it’s probably a fair estimate of where we stand at the moment.
“A couple of tenths and a couple of starting positions can make a difference, so unfortunately, there wasn’t really a gap or a window for us [in Spain]. I need to have a look.
“Obviously we lost a bit of time in the first pitstop, and we were early for the second round, I was stuck behind the Alfa and then burned the tyres. So that was pretty much our race.”
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With a six-car train competing for the final points paying position towards the end of the race in Spain, Vettel knows as well as anybody how close the midfield battle is at the moment.
The four-time World Champion says that, while development is continuing at the team, the battle to climb above their nearest rivals will be a testing one.
“Well, I think everybody is trying to make progress, so it’s difficult to make a lot more progress than the others,” he added.
“I was a bit surprised with the Alpine, they weren’t very quick in the race. I expected them to be faster, because they were so much faster[on Saturday].
“But I think we see it’s very close. Equally the AlphaTauris were a lot faster in the race than they were in qualifying. Every weekend is a bit different. And if it’s so tight, maybe if you’ll feel a bit more comfortable, maybe the car suits better to the track, you find an extra one or two tenths.”
Vettel, a two-time winner in Monaco, hopes that returning to the Principality next weekend will bring more luck for Aston Martin.
“We’ll see. Obviously to the very front runners, we’re missing downforce, so it will be difficult. But Monaco is always different, so hopefully we can make a difference.”
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