Sebastian Vettel says Aston Martin is approaching its 2022 campaign in much better shape than last year, but the season ahead will also provide the team with a "true test" of how good it is.
Formula 1's new regulations have ushered in a new era for the sport and new-found hopes for each team, and Aston martin is no exception.
The Silverstone-based squad started work on its 2022 contender early last year which meant that the development of its AMR21 was extremely limited, which in turn curbed the team's performance level.
But Aston won't be dealing with that constraint this season.
"At this stage, everybody is hoping to be at the top," commented Vettel during Thursday's launch of Aston all-new AMR22.
"If you look at the podium, it will still look the same this year, so it's only space for one.
"But we hope we are in much better shape than last year. We have the ability this year to develop the car and we didn't do that last year for probably more than three quarters of the season.
"So it will be very different. Obviously, last year we knew from the start that it is going to be a long and difficult season. So we hope for a better one."
Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll ambitions to carry his outfit to the top of F1's pyramid in the next five years. A new state-of-the-art factory is currently being built on its Silverstone campus and the team continues to recruit for the future, but also for the present.
Ex-BMW motorsport boss Mike Krack has replaced Aston's long-standing former team principal Otmar Szafnauer as the outfit strengthens its management structure.
Vettel admitted that the changes at the top will require time to "overcome".
"Having a shuffle in management is always a bit of a hiccup or shake up, and it will take time to overcome," he said.
"But hopefully we manage to pull together and, despite growing in size, becoming leaner, or more efficient in our processes
"I think this year will be a true test for us. And we will see how good we are. Because as I said last year, we didn't show anything because we didn't focus on bringing any updates whereas this year it's all about this set of regulations, this year's cars or this generation of cars, and we will be able to show what we can produce. And we should be measured based on that."
As a friend of Szafnauer, Vettel was sad to see the American leave the team but he's also looking forward to working with his successor, Mike Krack.
"I've always liked Otmar and got along with him: and I think it is difficult not to get along with him," Vettel commented.
"He definitely had a very central role in the team. A lot of guys knew him because he had been there for so long and for sure it is a big reshuffle.
"But I am looking forward. I think Mike is great, and I'm very much looking forward to work with him again.
"He is highly rated by everyone who has shared the way with him. So let's see is the honest answer, because it's been some years.
"But I think, he's a great, great guy and has a great spirit. So hopefully it's a strong addition to the team."