Both Aston Martin drivers went into 2021 with something to prove. But as yet neither has decisively held the upper hand over the other to the extent they might like, and each have shown plenty of scope for improvement.

True, were it not for Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from the last race – he would presently enjoy a 48-18 lead over Lance Stroll. But would this truly be a fair reflection of their relative performances? After all, Stroll has been the first driver home more often on the occasions when both have finished.

In his fifth season of F1 and third year at his father’s team, Stroll was overwhelmingly beaten by Sergio Perez. Vettel also lost badly to Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, yet Aston Martin eagerly showed the door to Perez – still with two years left to run on his contract – to welcome Vettel in.

Over the first four races Vettel finished in the teens, usually behind his team mate, and it seemed his Ferrari form had followed him. But as with most of 2021’s movers he took a few races to play himself in. Monaco was a turning point – Vettel qualified strongly and carved out a fine fifth place. Then in Azerbaijan the cards fell in his favour and he capitalised in style, finishing on the podium, while Stroll lucked out with a high-speed tyre failure.

Since then Vettel has increasingly held the upper hand in qualifying and converted that into some strong results. Stroll has done himself no favours by failing to progress from Q1 in France after a track limits violation, and crashing in the same session in Azerbaijan.

Vettel’s peaks have been higher than his team mate’s: He took another second place on-the-road in Hungary before being disqualified for reasons beyond his control, while Stroll took himself and Charles Leclerc out at the start with a lunge from miles back. There have still been took many of the occasional errors which marked Vettel’s last season at Ferrari, however, such as his careless clash with Esteban Ocon in Bahrain and an unforced spin at Silverstone.

Aston Martin – formerly Racing Point – has made some debatable calls with its driver line-up in recent seasons. The team may be looking at their present seventh place in the constructors championship and blaming an off-season rules change they didn’t like and 700ml of missing fuel in Hungary. But they should also consider how many points their drivers have left on the table.

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Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Key stats

Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Who finished ahead at each round

Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lance Stroll was faster, positive means Sebastian Vettel was faster

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