Aston Martin sporting director Andy Stevenson has said that Damon Hill’s impact on Jordan was the inspiration behind Sebastian Vettel’s signing.
Vettel had a lacklustre final season at Ferrari, and was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed. He switched teams to Aston Martin, replacing Sergio Perez in the process.
Stevenson said that a key reason for the signing was Damon Hill’s career at Jordan, which was what the team was called in 1998 and 1999. The positive experience of that move and Hill’s impact gave Aston Martin a reason to sign the German.
Speaking to Forbes, Stevenson said, “With the team moving into the new era and looking to take on a world championship, we had to look at the aspects that needed to be strengthened. One of them, quite simply, was we didn’t have a driver who had won a championship.
“From experience, during the Jordan Grand Prix days, seeing the expertise, knowledge and experience Damon Hill brought to the team was phenomenal. It wouldn’t have mattered how many hours we put into each day or how many days we put into each week, we wouldn’t make up for the experience Damon brought.
“That’s the thinking we used for 2021, and Sebastian fit the mould. We managed to persuade Sebastian this would be the right place for him to continue his career. He had a very tough year in 2020, but so did Ferrari as a whole. They didn’t have a car that was competitive, and it’s no secret they were struggling with their engine.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how he can move the team forward internally, by guiding us in areas we’re weaker than we should be. We’re always willing to learn,” he assured.
Ironically, Ferrari have stepped up this season, while Aston Martin haven’t had a strong season so far. Vettel’s Azerbaijan podium aside, they have struggled for consistency. However, they will be aiming to challenge for the top spots within a year or two.
“Our aim is to be realistic and look at the competition in front of us and do the best job possible to ensure we beat the competitors closest to us,” Stevenson said.
“It’s quite difficult to explain to anyone on the outside why we turn up each weekend if we know we can’t win, but we have to pick our battles.
“We want to establish Aston Martin Cognizant as a top-three so we can win at any point. Our long-term plan is to win and our 3-5 year plan is to be the best in the world,” he concluded.
Aston Martin still have time to turn their season around and establish themselves as a threat. Vettel’s podium could be the start of something special, and the team will look to ride that momentum into the promise land.