During the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, drivers adapting to their new teams, such as Sebastian, felt that the demanding Imola circuit demonstrated the level of confidence in machine and team required to maximise every lap.
For Sebastian, there’s been an adaptation period to a new power unit, chassis, and development philosophy in a season in which both testing and practice sessions have been shortened.
“For Seb, the philosophy of the AMR21 is completely different and that does take time to learn,” explains Otmar. “I spoke to Checo [in Imola] and he’s gone to Red Bull, which has a different philosophy to us, and he said similar.
“It’s going to take seat time to be able to get on top of the fine margins needed for getting the most out of the car. The more seat time, the better.
“Seb was not in contention in Imola, through no fault of his own, but if you looked at his pace on the dry tyres, it was promising. I think that shows he’s starting to get on top of the car.”
Reduced testing that slashed running from six days to three has also had an impact on Sebastian getting up to speed.
“My biggest regret is that we weren't as reliable as we should have been in the winter,” reflects Otmar. “It cost Seb a significant amount of his day and a half of running.
“Had we had more testing, I think he'd be in a different place on the learning curve.”
While results on track remain crucial, Sebastian’s expertise as a four-time World Champion has been hugely important for the team as it seeks to lay the foundations for longer-term success.
In Imola, Sebastian worked alongside Lance to evaluate upgrades for the AMR21, of which both drivers reported positive impressions, and such insight will be valuable in the coming races as development continues.
“Seb has very high expectations,” adds Otmar. “He will work tirelessly to get better and move up that learning curve, but he's not beating himself up.
“He'll take that bit of frustration and be even more determined to get up to speed quickly.”
Sebastian and the team have used the Imola setback to sharpen minds and focus on areas to improve in Portugal.
“I think we have to look really hard at one lap pace as it looks like the race pace is a little bit better,” explained Otmar. “Although conditions in Imola were tricky with the wet and drying surface.
“Lance did a brilliant job to come home seventh [later demoted to eighth as a result of a five-second penalty] in a tough race. Unfortunately, Seb had the gearbox issue and a penalty, but we’ll look through all the data. We’re working hard to move forward.”
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