Sebastian Vettel insists he’s not unduly worried by the Aston Martin’s mixed Formula 1 pre-season test in Bahrain, even though it means he will arrive at the first race having done minimal running.
Aston Martin faced several reliability failures during the three-day test, with a gearbox problem on day two and turbo issue on the final day limiting Vettel to a total of 117 laps. Despite heading into the new season with so little running, Vettel says everyone is on the back foot to a certain degree and there’s no benefit from worrying about what he may have missed out on.
“I’m not too preoccupied,” Vettel said. “Maybe it is the age, maybe the experience, probably 10 years ago I would slightly panic. But then again if I were to panic now would it help? Probably not. Just trying to do our things and use the time we have now. And I still got some running, for me it was super useful, the laps (on Sunday), so it could be worse – could be better but it could be worse.
“I think it is about remaining calm, doing one thing at a time and moving forward when it’s time to. Even the people who had no trouble at all, doing lots of laps, I don’t think you can acquire all the information about the new cars, the new tires, the changes over the winter that might have been on top of that in just one and a half days in the car.
“Plus, let’s be honest, our sport is quite difficult to practice. We need to be in the car, we need to run. You can do simulator (work) all winter long, but it’s not the same. If anybody gets out of the car and says he is up to the speed he was after 17 races in 20 weeks last year, that’s not possible. It will naturally take a bit of time to get up to speed, some less (than others).”
Vettel estimated he is about 100 laps short of where he would like to have been after testing, but insisted there were still plenty of lessons learned from the track time he did get.
“We obviously had more laps on our schedule for all the three days – not everything went according to plan,” he said. “Where are we? I think it’s very difficult to say. In terms of competitiveness we haven’t done many runs that probably equal other people’s runs to get a bit of a comparison. But I don’t think that’s too important, as we find out in two weeks anyway.
“It’s nice for you (in the media) – two weeks of speculation! We’ll obviously see that, but in two weeks is when we really see the pecking order. For myself, it was extremely useful to have more laps (on Sunday), the track was in a better condition as well, more consistent. At this stage every lap is extremely important to me to understand the car, understand how the car wants to be driven, to figure out the differences of my past and my future, so really interesting, and I enjoy it.
“There’s still a lot that I can improve, there’s still a lot that we can improve, we have to learn obviously a great deal about the car still when it comes to set-up and so on, but I think everyone is in the same position. With only three days of running, it’s impossibly to get everything in. For us, the first couple of races, especially for me, will be a steep learning curve, but we’ll take it from there.”