It still remains to be seen whether Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel will return to the team’s cockpit ahead of the Grand Prix scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg — who had replaced Vettel on short notice in Bahrain — has said that he will “definitely be there” in Jeddah.
“I won’t know until Thursday or Friday if Seb is driving or me,” Hulkenberg said.
Vettel had missed the season-opener due to covid and team boss Mike Krack has admitted that the four-time world champion is still suffering from a “hoarse” throat.
Subject to testing negative before Thursday, Vettel may make a comeback, but Krack is not all that optimistic.
“Honestly I’m not 100 percent sure of the rules in Saudi Arabia, but let’s hope,” Krack said.
Does Vettel lack the incentive to return to full fitness?
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, however, believes that Vettel may be prolonging his period of unavailability purely due to how lackluster the new Aston Martin challenger has looked during pre-season testing and in the first race.
“The team has lost the thread,” Ralf Schumacher said.
“You can’t just take a lot of people and a lot of money, put them in a pot, stir them briefly and then hope something good comes out of it in Formula 1.
“The team wanted to use the bulldozer method and that didn’t work at Toyota either,” he insisted.
Ralf went on to discuss how certain members in the team believe they have come up with an absolute disaster and have attributed the mess to team owner Lawrence Stroll.
“I hear that the team owner is sitting in on all the meetings and saying how things should be. If that’s the case, then it will get really, really difficult,” he said.
Ralf was relentless in his attack and went on to ridicule the performance of Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance.
“He needs to ask himself whether he should find a different hobby. That was really embarrassing,” he said.
This was a direct dig aimed at the fact that reserve driver Hulkenberg was able to outqualify him.
McLaren also suffering
Meanwhile, McLaren has also failed to hit the ground running this season.
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve told Dutch publication Formule 1 of his shock after seeing just how poor the team has been this year. “All that experience, knowledge and skill in car design,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable that they screwed up like this.
“I had less expectations of Aston Martin, who copied Mercedes for so many years that maybe they forgot how to design their own car,” the Canadian added.
“Competing at the top takes more than ambition and money. Formula 1 is a special sport. It’s not just marketing and branding.”