After a disappointing weekend in Spain, Aston Martin’s goal in Canada was to return as the second-fastest team on the grid and close the performance gap to Red Bull. The team introduced an important update package, which mainly involved the bottom of the car and part of the bodywork (panels and bonnet).
This was in addition to the new front wing and the rear that had been brought forward in Spain. Above all, improvements were brought to the floor, a crucial part of this new generation of Formula 1 – the technicians of the Silverstone team were confident in an important step forward.
This was clear from the wind tunnel numbers, although limited running in Free Practice (due to rain and other technical issues) made it more difficult for Aston to learn about the updated AMR23. However, it was enough to respond to updates from Mercedes (Montecarlo) and Ferrari (Spain).
Aston Martin second-fastest: A Fuel System issue limited the AMR23
“It was a very intense race; I did 70 qualifying laps,” said Fernando Alonso post-race, outlining his satisfaction after the ninth round of the season.
“The start was bad, and Hamilton passed me, but luckily I was able to pass him in a few laps.” explained the Spaniard.
Speaking of the start, Alonso’s poor launch was more a clutch release problem than a human problem, as Alonso’s reaction times were comparable to those of Lewis Hamilton.
While the true potential of the AMR23 was seen in the first part of the race, from two-thirds of the race onwards, the Silverstone team believed they had a problem with the fuel supply system.
This led to a longer lift & coast than expected, starting from lap 25, to safeguard fuel consumption and make it to the end of the race without major problems.
“We had no problems with the brakes. However, after about a third of the race, we suspected we had a problem with the fuel system,” revealed Mike Krack.
“So we decided to play it safe. In the end, we found that there was no problem, but in situations like this, you have to try to bring home the result.
“And despite a lot of lift & coast, the pace was still excellent,” concluded the team principal.
Thus, for most of the race, the true pace of the AMR23 was not seen. Potentially, there was enough speed to be closer to Red Bull and more comfortably ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been as competitive this year as we are today. In terms of pace, we were on par with the Red Bulls,” said Fernando Alonso at the end of the race.
Considering that Aston Martin’s issue cost them between 1 and 2 tenths per lap (a value likely closer to two-tenths per lap at the end of the race), Alonso’s assessment seems reasonable.
However, Mike Krack disagrees slightly with his driver’s assessment.
“I think we could have gone a little faster, but I don’t think it would have been enough to be at Red Bull’s level,” stated the Luxembourg engineer.
Aston Martin: The heavy load package generates instabilities, a wake-up call for Hungary
The race run by Aston Martin didn’t even see the use of the best two-stop strategy, i.e. with two stints on Medium and one on the hard – which is what Red Bull and Mercedes did.
The medium tyre was certainly the best race tyre. However, Aston Martin had made the conservative decision to keep two sets of Hard for Sunday’s race.
“We did not have any more medium tyres. You have to decide before qualifying which tires you want to keep, and with just an hour and a half of free practice on Friday, it was a leap in the dark. But I’m happy with the decision,” Alonso said after the race.
Indeed, the hard compound was not so limiting for his AMR33 in terms of pace, unlike some of the other cars. However, in the final stint of the race, this might have been somewhat of a limitation.
On the positive side, there is also the fact that the medium load package worked very well, unlike the high load package, which created quite a few problems for the Spanish AMR23.
From the analysis that emerged, Aston had some instability problems in high-speed corners, something that clearly hadn’t been highlighted in Monte Carlo, given the lack of corners of that type.
Not even set-up corrections (in terms of ground clearance) have completely solved the problem from Spain.
Alonso wanted to try a very aggressive setup route on Saturday to address this, but wet conditions in FP3 prevented this experiment from happening.
This area must be improved before the Hungarian GP in late July, where Aston Martin will certainly have to find countermeasures.
Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang