Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says the Aston Martin team will carry the weight of its famous name in F1 and provide Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll with a “first reality check”.
Aston Martin executive chairman Lawrence Stroll has organized a tie-up between the legendary sportscar manufacturer and his F1 team Racing Point that has led to the rebranding of the Silverstone-based outfit, but also to an upgrade of the outfit’s long-term ambitions.
Wolff, a close friend of Stroll and a shareholder of Aston Martin, will be keeping an attentive eye on Aston’s performance this season, but suggests that a bout of pressure has come with the team’s new identity.
“When you carry the name of an automobile manufacturer with this great tradition, you have to have aspirations to be at the very front,” said the Austrian, speaking to Speedweek.
“This is also an upgrade for Formula 1 with a great brand. For Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Lance Stroll, this will be a first reality check.
“It will also be fascinating for me to watch Aston Martin.”
Team Silverstone, which triumphed in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix with Sergio Perez, might well spring a few surprises this year, but Wolff expects Mercedes’ main opposition to come from its fellow front-running rival Red Bull.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit is expected to field one of the strongest driver pairings on the grid as Max Verstappen is joined by Perez. Wolff views Mercedes’ rival as “double challenge” this year.
“That is a very strong combination,” Wolff said alluding to Red Bull’s solid driver line-up.
“Red Bull Racing actually had the fastest car at the end of last year, so the team is in the favourites’ circle in 2021, especially in the Constructors’ Championship, with drivers of this calibre.
“I see Red Bull Racing as a double challenge, so in both World Championship categories, drivers and teams.”
In his assessment of this year’s field, Wolff is convinced Ferrari will enjoy a much-awaited step forward while the inner-team rivalry between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz should also prove interesting.
“It will be exciting to see how Carlos Sainz does against Charles Leclerc,” he added.
“Ferrari will be stronger than in 2020, the Scuderia simply has to. It also suffered from a weak chassis last year. I assume that those bugs have been ironed out.”
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