After being dropped by Ferrari last year, four-time F1 world champion Vettel explored a number of options before ultimately signing with the rebranded Aston Martin squad for 2021.
Vettel endured a difficult debut for Aston Martin in Bahrain. After being knocked out in Q1 and receiving a grid penalty, the German driver finished 15th after a clash with Esteban Ocon that landed him a 10-second time penalty.
Aston Martin struggled to battle at the front of the midfield in Bahrain as it did throughout last year, with the team believing the updated regulations had hurt its low-rake car concept.
Asked about Vettel’s struggles, Marko said he had not changed his view that the former Red Bull driver should have taken a year out before returning under the new regulations in 2022.
“I was of the opinion, I told you that too, that he should take a year off, sort himself out, ask himself what he wants,” Marko said in an exclusive interview with Autosport German language sister site Formel1.de.
“I believe that a lot is possible within Formula 1 next year. He didn’t do that. Now he sits in the Aston Martin, which of course suffers similar to the Mercedes [with low rake].
“They are very similar cars. And this race was far from being the one that could have brought relief.”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Despite largely freezing the technical regulations for 2021 in a bid to cut costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FIA moved to reduce downforce levels and slow the cars down.
The main thrust of the downforce cut centred on the floors of the cars, and appears to have hurt the teams with low-rake car concepts more than those running high-rake set-ups.
Mercedes has also been hampered by the rule change, with Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer estimating it was worth around one second per lap.
Although Marko agreed that Aston Martin had been hurt by the rule changes, he felt it did not fully explain the performance gap the team now faced.
“Let’s go back to the test where Mercedes had a very unstable rear end: Mercedes managed to stabilise that to a large extent,” Marko said.
“Whereas with Aston Martin, as far as I have seen, they have not succeeded to that extent. They will eventually get better handling together as well, but apparently not to the level of Mercedes.
“And that one-and-a-half seconds [to Mercedes], I would say, is not just with Vettel, it’s partly in the car.
“At the moment, I think Aston Martin is in sixth or seventh place in the ranking. But with the Mercedes engine and with the possibilities they have now, they will surely move up.
“But that doesn’t change anything. The crash when [Vettel] drove into Ocon was incomprehensible.”