The Spanish GP was one of Aston Martin‘s most disappointing weekends, with the AMR23 showing relatively lack-lustre pace all weekend. Sixth and seventh certainly weren’t what the British team aimed for in Barcelona, with Fernando Alonso’s impressive podium streak coming to an end at his home race.
Despite a decent haul of points, Aston Martin lost second place in the constructors’ standings to Mercedes, enjoying the benefits of a heavily updated W14. “We didn’t have the pace to fight for the podium. Sixth and seventh position is the best we could get,” declared Mike Krack post-race.
Barcelona suited the AMR23 on paper, but Aston Martin struggled
Dan Fallows and Luca Furbatto’s AMR23 struggled at a circuit that, in theory, suited the Silverstone machine. We consistently praised Aston Martin this year for its development over the winter, but this progression was hardly present in Spain.
The Aston Martin seen in Barcelona, on a track that has always been probative for evaluating the validity of a project, was lacking in what is traditionally its strongest point – race pace.
The average pace of the Aston Martin duo was a considerable 8 tenths slower than the dominant Verstappen:
“It could very well be that others have taken a bigger step. But our analyzes so far don’t suggest that,” Mike Krack explained after the chequered flag.
Alonso attributed the difficult weekend to the circuit’s characteristics and the developments made by rivals. The steps taken to optimise set-up did not work, leaving the British squad out of its sweet spot.
“Up until now, we’ve always been satisfied with the car after the first practice session, but the basic set-up didn’t work in Spain,” Fernando Alonso said.
However, the Spaniard’s race was undoubtedly compromised by a damaged floor from qualifying, which Aston Martin quantified as a loss of three-tenths. The Spaniard was not particularly brilliant in the race either, not showing hit typical performances, while teammate Stroll had a clean weekend across the board.
In general, the English car struggled to perform, especially in the high-speed corners, which make up significant parts of the Spanish track.
Alonso and Stroll lacked pace mainly in the first stint with the softs, where both drivers were easy prey for the Mercedes duo, paying on average for a race pace 6 tenths slower, about 4 tenths compared to Ferrari, taking Sainz as the main reference:
“We are a bit disappointed with our pace, especially in the first stint on the soft tyres. Compared to some of our direct competitors, we didn’t have the pace, and we need to understand why that happened,” said Mike Krack.
“But once the hard tires were on, we returned to having good pace – even compared to the competition.
“So the main thing we need to understand is what happened at the start of the race because we had different competitiveness at different points in the race.”
In short, the Aston Martin had unfavourable Ferrari-like characteristics. The AM23 suffered from a surprising level of inconsistency at a circuit that was, in theory, suited to its car.
Updates necessary for Aston Martin? The first in Canada, then Silverstone
One of the questions surrounding Aston Martin was if the team would be able to maintain its high standards throughout 2023 after starting the year with a relatively new package.
Once we have a car capable of battling with the top teams, it is legitimate to ask: how much will Aston Martin be able to keep up with developments compared to its direct competitors?
In this case, we are obviously talking about Ferrari and Mercedes. The latter in Spain showed a great performance in race trim, partly thanks to the long-awaited great evolution/revolution of the W14’s aero-mechanical design. Ferrari, as we have already analyzed, has also introduced updates to the bellies and the bottom.
Ferrari and Mercedes have revised their concepts, while Aston already made this step by introducing a new design at last year’s Spanish GP.
The Silverstone team has spread small updates during this first part of the season, which mainly concerned specific packages for the various tracks. The AMR23 had its first real evolution in terms of aerodynamic design in Spain, targeted at combating the drag that the Silverstone car carries with it.
A new front wing, revised with spoilers less likely to raise the flow in the central part and with a revision of the flow near the endplate. According to Aston Martin, the updates worked after the comparisons carried out in Friday’s free practice.
Aston is looking to slightly modify the flow that affects the underbody of the car and the entire bodywork in order to improve aerodynamic efficiency, a factor that remains mainly with DRS closed. On this front, the RB19 remains very distant.
One positive for Aston Martin is that when using DRS, as we have already seen in Miami, their efficiency is quite high.
With the flap open, the AMR23 in Spain confirmed this attitude, resulting in the second car on the track for gains on the straight, behind the usual RB19.
A new high-downforce rear wing was also seen in Barcelona, with the same configuration from Monte Carlo but with a sort of upwash deflector in the inner part of the endplate.
Among the changes declared by the English team, there was also a new beam wing, featuring small variations to better implement the new side bulkhead.
As previously announced, Fernando Alonso has confirmed that Canada and Silverstone will be successive stops to see further developments on the AMR23.
“I think in Canada, we will see a completely different picture, and hopefully, we can fight with the Red Bulls soon,” said Fernando Alonso after the Spanish GP.
These two update packages will be fundamental to verifying if the direction of development at the Silverstone squad will be enough to make further progress up the standings.
The Red Bull know-how brought by Dan Fallows will certainly be fundamental, while Mike Krack has so far been very composed in keeping high targets and expectations. The team’s objective has become to finish the season at least in third place in the constructors, already considered a great success given where they were last year.
Author: Rosario Giuliana
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang