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Aston Martin safety car criticized: 'Like a turtle'

Aston Martin safety car criticized: ‘Like a turtle’

( – Aston Martin’s safety car has come under fire after the Australian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen complained it was “like a turtle” on the road – not because of driver Bernd Maylander, but because of the green Aston Martin Vantage, which was first used in the 2022 Formula 1 season in Melbourne.

The tire temperature has dropped behind the Aston Martin safety car


Key quarrel: Because the Vantage is slower than the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, tire temperature is lost during the car’s safety period, and this leads to situations like Sunday’s race when Charles Leclerc flopped in the last corner and almost lost his drive.

“The safety car was as slow as a turtle. Unbelievable,” Verstappen criticized. “We drove the 140 straight back, although there was no damaged car there. I don’t understand why we were driving so slowly. We have to investigate that.”

“The Mercedes safety car is obviously faster because it has more air,” says the Red Bull driver. “This Aston Martin is really slow. It needs more stability because our tires were stone cold.” We are driving behind the safety car at the moment.”

195 hp less than its Mercedes counterpart

In the eyes of the average consumer, the Vantage is a great sports car. The four-liter V8 biturbo engine delivers 535 hp with a maximum torque of 685 Nm. It has a top speed of 314 km/h and it goes from zero to 100 in 3.6 seconds.

For comparison: the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, a new model for Formula 1 in 2022, accelerates from zero to 100 in just 3.2 seconds and with a power of 730 hp, the performance of the system available to Mayländer is much higher.

“We don’t have that problem with the Mercedes-AMG safety car,” says George Russell. “Now seriously, the AMG is five seconds faster than the Aston Martin. That’s very important.” An unexpectedly clear statement from the Mercedes driver, after all Mercedes Group is a shareholder in the Aston Martin Lagonda (AML).

Supposedly Lawrence Stroll, CEO of AML, didn’t like the discussion after the race. Especially since Leclerc did not miss the opportunity to publicly hit Aston Martin: “Let’s take the Ferrari, then we will be five seconds faster!”

Why restarting is a problem for Ferrari

The hurdle was the safety car stage after Sebastian Vettel crashed on lap 24. This ended on lap 27, and apparently Leclerc found it difficult to get the temperature in his tyres. Ferrari is a “tyre whisperer” in 2022. That’s an advantage over the race distance – but it makes it more complicated to get to operating temperature immediately after the yellow flag stage.

Behind the safety car, “the speed always feels very slow,” says Leclerc, “because we stick a lot in Formula 1 cars. If we also had the solid tires on them, it would be really hard. Problems getting the temperature in my tires.”

“Honestly, I wanted to complain over the radio, but then I saw how bad the safety car slipped in turns. That’s when I realized you can’t move faster and I didn’t want to push anything harder. It is. But yeah, you have to say, With new cars it is very difficult to maintain the temperature in the tires,” says the Ferrari driver.

Exit Curve 2: Leclerc is again in danger

The safety car was the only factor that made Leclerc almost lose its lead on restart. The other was minimal in the last corner before the start and finish, allowing Verstappen to slide down the slope. It was fortunate for Leclerc that the DRS was not yet approved at the time, or else the P1 would not have been defensible.

“I tried to prepare the last corner as much as possible, so I stayed on the left side of the road, which made me collect quite a bit of dirt on the tires,” analyzes Leclerc. “So I had a really bad swerve in the last corner and thought: ‘Stop, it’s going to be difficult to defend the lead. “But after two or three corners, the fist came back.”

Leclerc was in danger again at the end of Turn 2 because he had to defend himself on approaching Turn 1 and Verstappen came out of the corner better in terms of line technique. But since the Red Bull driver had to correct minimal lateral maneuvering, also likely due to cold tyres, he did not have enough momentum for a serious attack towards Turn 3.

By the way: One might think that the rule of the new safety car, which you are no longer allowed to be alongside the person in front of you when restarting, is a thorn in Verstappen’s side – but that’s not the case. The world champion says, “I know both, side by side and behind me. Bottom line, it’s not much of a difference. It’s the same for everyone.”