AUTO BILD learned: The Heppenheimer himself did not know until the end of the season whether Szafnauer was staying or not. Until recently, the American behaved normally, and even gave a speech at the final team dinner. “I assume that we have done a good job for 2022,” he also said in a recent interview.
This is a major blow for Sebastian Vettel. Only one reason: Szafnauer is considered a close confidante of the German, brought him to Aston Martin. Whitmarsh, on the other hand, was always Vettel’s opponent during his time at McLaren, even criticizing him as a “crash kid” after an accident with Jenson Button (McLaren) in Spa 2010.
It is unclear whether Whitmarsh will now also take on the role of team boss at Aston Martin in addition to his role as Group CEO. Until a successor is found, a group of leading engineers will lead the team, said Aston Martin. This also includes head of technology Andy Green. In view of the rule revolution, which will bring completely new cars in 2022, these are not good prerequisites – especially since a new plant including a new simulator is also being built on the factory site at the same time.
Fits into the difficult picture: Vettel was cautious with his outlook at the end of the 2021 season in an interview with ABMS. “The motivation is there, we try to improve together and the team tries to turn everything that is possible,” he said. “The new rules in 2022 offer a great opportunity. But we also have to remain realistic and not talk about the role of favorites, but have to see how good our car is. “
Alone: The development around the top of the team could also influence Vettel’s own future. As in the previous year, his contract must be renewed for 2023. Insiders suspect that the Hessian could end his career if the success fails again this year.
Vettel also remains vague on this topic: “Of course you sometimes ask yourself the question of meaning. I would be lying if I said that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet … If I can no longer feel the drive and ambition and just stick to it to convey messages or to increase my account balance, it would be betrayal in the generation that is still to come and live this dream. … But the fire is still burning. “
The sentence fell when Szafnauer was still team principal at Aston Martin.