After being abandoned by Ferrari last year, four-time F1 world champion Vettel explored a number of options before signing with the rebranded Aston Martin team for 2021.
Vettel had a rough start for Aston Martin in Bahrain. After being eliminated in Q1 and receiving a grid penalty, the German driver finished 15th after a clash with Esteban Ocon which earned him a 10-second penalty.
Aston Martin struggled to fight up front midfielder in Bahrain as they did throughout the past year, with the team believing the updated regulations had hurt their concept of low rake car.
Asked about Vettel’s struggles, Marko said he had not changed his mind that the former Red Bull driver should have taken a year before returning to the new regulations in 2022.
“I was of the opinion, I told you this too, that he should take a year off, fend for himself, ask himself what he wants,” Marko said in an exclusive interview with the sister site of Autosport, Formel1.de.
“I think a lot is possible in Formula 1 next year. He didn’t do that. Now he sits in the Aston Martin, which of course suffers in the same way as the Mercedes [with low rake].
“They are very similar cars. And this race was far from being the one that could have brought relief.
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Despite the largely freezing of technical regulations for 2021 in an effort to cut costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FIA has decided to reduce downforce and slow cars down.
The main thrust of downforce reduction was centered on the car floors, and appears to have hurt teams with low-rake car concepts more than those performing high-rake setups.
Mercedes were also hampered by the rule change, with Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer estimating it to be worth around a second per lap.
Although Marko agreed that Aston Martin was hurt by the rule changes, he felt that this did not fully explain the performance gap the team now faced.
“Let’s go back to the test where Mercedes had a very unstable rear end: Mercedes managed to stabilize that to a large extent,” said Marko.
“Whereas with Aston Martin, from what I’ve seen, they haven’t succeeded at this point. They’ll end up having better handling together, but apparently not at Mercedes’ level.
“And this second and a half [to Mercedes]I would say, it’s not just with Vettel, it’s partly in the car.
“At the moment, I think Aston Martin is in sixth or seventh place in the standings. But with the Mercedes engine and with the possibilities they now have, they will surely make progress.
“But that doesn’t change anything. The crash when [Vettel] led to Ocon was incomprehensible.