Sebastian Vettel says his first podium result for Aston Martin “means a great deal” after he finished second in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The former Racing Point team has struggled so far this season, citing the impact of aerodynamic regulation changes on its low-rake car concept. However, Vettel appeared to have settled into his new team with a strong run to fifth place in Monaco and he followed that up with an equally impressive drive in Baku, where he was running fourth on merit before issues for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton enabled him to finish second.
“I think it means a great deal,” Vettel said. “Obviously it’s been a tough start for us and yeah, I think it was a great race. We had good pace; that was key. I had a good start, made some positions straight away, looked after my tires as soon as everybody went to the pits.
“I had really good pace to overcut, I think, Yuki (Tsunoda) at least and then obviously the restart worked brilliantly for me and got another two positions there. We obviously had fresher tires, which I guess helped, warming up the tires later on.
“A great day. I’m over the moon. For the team it’s great, obviously — a podium. We didn’t expect that when we came here. Already on Friday, even though we were nowhere, it felt good. I was quite relaxed. Yesterday we didn’t quite get it but today, even sweeter.”
Vettel made a lot of progress on the first race restart after teammate Lance Stroll retired, passing Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly to run fourth, and admits he had hopes of winning the race when chasing Sergio Perez on the red flag restart.
“It was quite hairy into Turn 3 and Charles was braver than I expected because I initially braked later than him but he opened the brakes and I thought, ‘OK, for sure, he’s going to hit the wall,’ so I prepared to get to the inside — but he made it. I don’t know how, but he did.
“After that, I still had a good feeling on the lap after the restart to get him at the end of the lap and jump him there; after that we were in fourth and could really go with the pace from the group in the front. Then, with the red flag, obviously it’s a shame for Max to lose the lead like that. I don’t know what happened. I think Lance had the same issue, the tire just failing. But for us, obviously, we then found ourselves in a good spot, in the podium ranks.
“Just two laps to go so you just try to keep it together. I was again aggressive on the start and had a good start but nowhere to go and then I saw that Lewis misjudged Turn 1. Tried to stay a bit closer with Sergio, maybe to do something after the first lap but I was too far away and obviously very happy with P2.
“I think it’s great for us. We had a very rough start to the season. We expected quite a bit more after such a strong year the team had last year. Can’t wait to get back to have a couple of drinks with the guys.”