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F1 | US GP | Aston Martin explains the reason for Vettel’s poor pit stop and Stroll-Alonso crash

Aston Martin F1 team principal Mike Krack has explained what happened in Sebastian Vettel’s horrible 16-seconds pit stop at the Austin race and how he saw the accident between future team-mates Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso. He also spoke about the team’s recent charge for sixth place in the constructors’ championship against Alfa Romeo.

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F1 | US GP | Aston Martin explains the reason for Vettel’s poor pit stop and Stroll-Alonso crash
Fuente imagen: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

Vettel was running a splendid race in Austin last weekend, and even led the race for a couple of laps as the leaders made their final pit stops of the race, before he pitted for the final time and endured a tough time in the pit lane, as his last stop took an enormous 16-seconds to be completed, relegating the German from a net-sixth place down to 13th, with just over a quarter of the race still to go. He managed to recover to 8th place on the road with some bold overtakes in the process, and with Alonso’s 30-second penalty became 7th.

Speaking to media after the United States GP, Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack explained that an offset between the car and the front jack caused the unusually long stop, but said he “needs to see the video” to find out the exact reason of the offset:

“The car was a little bit offset on the jack, so it slipped – it rolled basically on the jack – and then we couldn’t get the tyres properly off. We could get the tyre off, but then to put the next one on, it was not possible to put the nut properly on. We had to jack off, jack up again, and change it.”

Krack said the team’s plans of safely bagging sixth place in the race went up in the air after the pit stop, but admitted he didn’t think it would be as “easy” for Vettel to salvage some points afterwards relying only on tyre delta, especially given their straight-line speed disadvantage:

“The car was good all weekend. We had fresh tyres, we knew – honestly when we did the pit stop, it was just [about] banking the result, it was not about trying to be inventive or anything, because otherwise we would’ve gone for C4 [soft tyre], which we elected not to do.

“Everybody behind us was on very used medium or very used hard. So we said ‘if we go conservative, we’ll bring it home’. Things went out a little bit different than we had hoped for.

“And then all you can do is try to recover, and the only thing you have is the delta of tyre age, which seemed to be enough to come back through.

“Initially, I didn’t think that it [would be] so easy, but the others had also some drop-off in the last 10 laps. I thought that [Alex] Albon was going to be the most difficult, because they have very good straight-line speed, but then we managed to pass him somewhere else.”

Another defining moment in Aston Martin’s race at COTA was the main talking point of the race, the crash between the future team-mates at the Silverstone squad, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, on the safety car restart.

Asked about his opinion on the incident, Krack played down Stroll’s late move on the straight, saying it was a “racing incident” and adding that the pair did not have a “heated” discussion on the stewards’ room:

“For me, it was a racing incident,” he said. “If you speak to Fernando [Alonso], he has his view, Lance [Stroll] has his. I think they came back from the stewards and it was not a very heated discussion, as far as I understand.

“I think Lance wanted to close the line off, he didn’t zig-zag, didn’t brake-test him. It was just trying to go when Fernando was already there, so for me it was a racing incident.”

Krack believes Aston’s positive trend in the last few races is the biggest takeaway from COTA, as the team continues to close in on Alfa Romeo for sixth place in the constructors’ championship. He believes the problems in Austin won’t be the defining factor on whether the team gets the place or not come the season finale:

“I’ll try to take the positives, and there are many positives. I think it would be wrong to say now ‘we had a bad pit stop or an incident on track’. This can happen to anyone. If we gain or lose sixth position [in the constructors’ championship], it was not because of today.

“This weekend there were a lot of positives, and I bank on them. We will analyse the pit stop, and we will do the correct action.”

Early in the race, Aston Martin had Stroll running in third place with Vettel in 5th, and later on Vettel led the race for two laps as the leaders made their pit stops. Krack said the importance of little milestones like these shouldn’t be underestimated, as it is something people “emotionally take on”:

“It is very positive, and we must not underestimate the dynamic from results like that, when you have your cars running high up. I have received five or six pictures from the factory, where we were running first for two laps.

“It is something that people emotionally take on, and the dynamic that comes from that is very important, because it means – even if this was related to pit stops and all that – it means that we are on the other side of the field, sometimes at least,” he concluded.

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