Aston Martin on the rise: Vettel saves the wings

Azerbaijan GP 2022

As in Monte Carlo, Sebastian Vettel qualified safely for the top ten. His Aston Martin took another step forward. But the offer could have ended in the second quarter. Had Vettel not saved the front wing in an intentional accident.

Sebastian Vettel can laugh again. His Aston Martin learns to walk step by step. As in Monte Carlo, the four-time champion qualified safely for the third quarter. This is shown by the placements in the first two knockout rounds. Sixth in the first quarter and seventh in the second quarter. Ninth place in the top ten final. “It wasn’t easy anyway,” Vettel corrected. “I was on the attack from the first lap. You can’t go up slowly in Baku. You have to be fast right away because a lot of things can come up. Yellow flag here, red flag there. Faster than you think.”

Vettel is twice as close to the unattainable that Baku City Circuit offers each year. It just crossed the line in Q1 before the red flag interrupted the session 2.30 minutes ago. Teammate Lance Stroll shoots his Aston Martin against a wall. The first lap of 1:44.324 minutes was not enough for Vettel to advance.


Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin are slowly advancing in the midfield.

Front wings survive the impact of Tecpro

In the second quarter, Vettel almost got it all himself. An Aston Martin with starting number 5 suddenly stopped head-on in the Tecpro barrier at Turn 15. Vettel reversed the trap, came to the pits for a quick check and was dispatched again. The nose and front wing are unaffected. As with Stroll, who had a similar situation in Turn 7 in Q1 before eventually dumping his car. “If our winger survives twice, he must be very heavy and very strong,” team manager Andy Stephenson joked.

In Vettel’s case, it was the driver who saved the winger. Typically pilots escape to the emergency exit on the left ramp if they drop the anchor too late. Vettel thought he could still force his Aston Martin to turn around. “The tour was really good. I didn’t want to get rid of it.” When he realized that wasn’t enough, he had the audacity to focus on the Tecpro items. “My best chance of keeping everything intact was to hit the barrier head-on. First I wanted to turn right for the emergency exit, but it was already too late. Had I done that, I would have slashed a wing angle.”

Sebastian Vettel - Aston Martin - Azerbaijan GP 2022 - Baku

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Aston Martin tuned the cars to reduce downforce.

Shrink the car to full speed

In the third quarter of the year, there was only one set of new soft tires left for Vettel. In order to save two chances, he had to take enough fuel on board for three laps. “It will cost you ten times more,” Vettel lamented. He also lacked a sparring partner who could provide him with a fan. According to Stevenson, “With a gap of three seconds, there is still a tenth of a long straight.”

At least that was enough to pass Yuki Tsunoda in eighth. And even Lewis Hamilton wasn’t too far off. The Mercedes driver was just 0.167 seconds ahead of the Red Bull green version. Vettel still believes he can still fight on equal footing with Mercedes drivers this year with the B version of the AMR22. “For now, we’re still learning about our new car. We understand it better from weekend to weekend. This time we’ve dared to try a more aggressive setup.”

Aston Martin trims its cars for top speed. Vettel had the second best intermediate time in the third sector behind Fernando Alonso and the sixth highest top speed with 342.4 km/h. “However, we had a good long ride on Friday. Better than the Alpha Tauri race.” And what is still missing in the Mercedes? Some new parts. They should come for the first leg in England.

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