Mid-season development is always a crucial element of an F1 season, and this has proven the case in 2023. Aston Martin dominated the headlines to start the year, but a series of factors have resulted in a frustrating decline in overall performance.
The AMR23 showed great promise from its first laps in Bahrain testing, visibly handling well and posting consistently strong laps in both qualifying and race simulations.
Free practice, qualifying and the eventual Grand Prix in Sakhir – where Fernando Alonso claimed a brilliant podium finish – confirmed these early hopes.
Eight rounds and six podium finishes later, Aston Martin proved more than competent enough operationally to capitalise on their level of performance.
However, the upgrade package introduced in Canada – which didn’t appear to have adverse effects in Montreal – has become problematic for the Silverstone-based squad.
These changes, intended to produce more downforce, have shrunk the AMR23’s operating window and ruined the previously solid balance of the green machine.
Mike Krack and his team have made efforts to respond, implementing corrective updates in Belgium. At least visually, these changes (as seen in the floor edges) were a return to Aston’s Bahrain spec.
As seen with Ferrari and Mercedes in early 2023, taking a few steps backwards might be necessary to move forward again.
Although Fernando Alonso showed some promising pace in Spa, there was still a significant gap to Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.
Aston Martin’s early strength (at least compared to its German and Italian rivals) was that its concept did not show any fundamental flaws. Whilst Mercedes and Ferrari worked to understand their issues, the British outfit could push to find lap time.
This early advantage has amounted to little, especially with McLaren surging to the front of the field – thanks to a series of improvements that began in Spielberg.
Despite Aston’s failure to build upon their early momentum, team principal Mike Krack has made clear that upgrades will continue in the remainder of 2023.
The Silverstone team’s plan has always been to bring improvements steadily, so there is still some budget available to turn the situation around.
According to Krack, the updates Aston has in the pipeline – the first of which will be introduced in Zandvoort – can help the team reclaim its place as the second-fastest team.
Perhaps more significant than raw performance will be Aston Martin’s ability to understand its failed updates and – by extension – regain trust in the data from its simulation tools.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang