Just last season, Aston Martin emerged as an unexpected challenger, ending the season in seventh place and often giving Red Bull a run for its money. However, in the last five grand prix, only once has an Aston Martin driver made it into the top three. Fernando Alonso’s second place finish in Canada disrupts a string of two seventh places, one ninth, and one fifth-place finish.
Once ahead of Mercedes in points until the Spanish Grand Prix, Aston Martin, based in Silverstone, now trails by 39 points, coming in third. That being said, a combination of slow performance, uncertain strategy, and shaky pitstop executions by Ferrari have kept the pressure off from behind.
Despite the slight dip in performance, Aston Martin is still outperforming its previous season. The start of this season caught both the paddock and viewers off guard with its stellar performance.
Even with the recent downturn, if the team had been promised 11 consecutive point-scoring results back in late 2022, they would have deemed it a definite triumph.
Expectations were high for the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend, with hopes of reversing the downward trend. The low-speed circuit was thought to benefit the AMR23’s strong downforce and mechanical grip while compensating for its straight-line efficiency shortcomings. Yet, Alonso and Lance Stroll finished in a rather subdued ninth and tenth places, respectively.
Alonso had expressed the need for the team to reach the summer break for a reset. He then commented in Budapest that Aston Martin was currently only the fifth-fastest team.
In light of the recent performance, Alonso said, “We need to better comprehend our car’s current state compared to the season’s start, how we stack up against our main rivals in terms of upgrades, and adapt better to the new tires. These are the same challenges for everyone; we just need to excel at them.”
His superiors, however, are not overly concerned. They disagree with his claim that the new Pirelli tyre construction, introduced at the British Grand Prix, has significantly impacted Aston Martin and Red Bull. Performance director Tom McCullough assures there are “no significant changes” in performance.
Instead of attributing the decline to the car’s performance, the senior management points to the current competitive landscape. They are confident that Aston Martin hasn’t regressed. They argue that Aston Martin might be closer to Red Bull than at the season’s start, but the varying timelines for teams to implement upgrades means there are more cars competing for the gap to the RB19s.
Mike Krack, Team Principal, explains: “The gap to the front row hasn’t increased. It might be smaller than before. With the current grid’s competitive nature, even the smallest mistakes can cost several positions. It’s crucial to perform at 100%.”
This narrative aligns with Alonso losing time at two corners during Q3 in Hungary. Had he combined his three fastest sectors from the shootout, he would have ended up fifth instead of eighth.
To illustrate Krack’s point, at the Bahrain season-opener, Max Verstappen beat his ideal lap time by only 0.014s to secure pole position. Alonso was 0.064s short of his best to start fifth. The theoretical gap between them was 0.578s.
Last weekend in Hungary, Verstappen lost time during his first and last sectors of his second Q3 lap. Had Alonso optimized his lap, he would have been 0.56s behind Verstappen. This implies that Aston Martin’s drop in results cannot be solely attributed to losing ground to Red Bull.
As a result of the performance gap, Alonso’s position was outpaced by upgraded McLarens and unexpected performances from both Alfa Romeos.
Aston Martin is set to roll out upgrades in the near future. “We’ve got updates coming at most of the races moving forward,” says McCullough. If the drivers nail their races, the gap to Red Bull might decrease, opening the door for more podium finishes.
In conclusion, Krack says: “The development race is in full swing. It’s important to keep up and acknowledge the strides other teams have made in the meantime. This is standard for F1. We need to stay grounded about our current position and not let any disappointments or excitement cloud our judgment.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Aston Martin F1 Performance
Has Aston Martin’s F1 performance declined this season?
Aston Martin’s F1 performance has experienced a slight dip, especially when compared to the strong start of the season. However, the team remains hopeful with a series of upgrades in the pipeline.
Why has Aston Martin fallen behind in points compared to Mercedes?
Aston Martin has fallen behind Mercedes in terms of points due to a combination of factors including race performance and the competitive landscape of the current season. However, they still remain a strong contender.
How is the team planning to improve performance in future races?
The team is planning to roll out a series of upgrades in the future. They believe that if the drivers execute their races perfectly, these improvements could potentially reduce the gap to leading teams like Red Bull and lead to more podium finishes.
What does the team think of Alonso’s claim about the new Pirelli tyre construction?
The team’s management disagrees with Alonso’s assertion that the new Pirelli tyre construction has significantly impacted Aston Martin and Red Bull’s performance. They are confident in their ability to adapt to the changes.
How does Aston Martin view its current position in the F1 standings?
Aston Martin views its current position in the F1 standings realistically. They acknowledge that other teams have also made significant strides and are keen on keeping up in the development race. They are grounded about their current position and are neither disappointed nor overly excited.