Aston Martin will start both Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll from the pit lane in COTA, following a decision to break parc ferme rules. Aston will run their old-spec floor with Alonso in today’s race, whilst Stroll will race with the upgrades on the new-spec package. Both drivers have been given altered set-ups.
There was plenty of buzz surrounding Aston Martin heading into this weekend. News of their upgrade package quickly spread across the F1 paddock, before being officially confirmed by Dan Fallows. The British outfit’s technical director explained that – even with the Sprint weekend format – Aston were optimistic about their potential.
However, this weekend in America has been catastrophic for the team so far. Reliability issues and poor performance have plagued Mike Krack’s team in the 18th event of the F1 season.
A lot of this can be attributed to the lack of free practice running this weekend due to the Sprint weekend format. However, the team’s negative trajectory in 2023 has made fans less patient about their latest updates.
Moreover, few could have expected both cars to be eliminated in Q1. Amidst this frustration, Aston Martin still believes there is potential in the latest iteration of the AMR23.
Aston remain confident
Eric Blandin, Technical Director, has provided some light on the situation:
“Yesterday, in FP1, we couldn’t really optimise the set-up of the car with the new package,” he told formu1a.uno and other members of the media.
“As a consequence, I think the car is far from its optimum set-up with the new package…
“We learned that the package is actually performing as we were expecting. But as I mentioned, we haven’t been able to optimise the set-up.
“So one thing we have decided to do is start both cars from the pit lane – and we are effectively changing the set-up.
“Because we think there is a lot more performance to come from the car.
“So we took the pragmatic approach to start one car with the Qatar spec, and one with the new package.”
Too early to judge, but concerns remain
Objectively speaking, it is too soon to judge the latest changes to the AMR23. Alonso’s P2 result in Canada is proof that one race weekend isn’t enough time to make conclusions about an upgrade package.
Still, the concern surrounding Lawrence Stroll’s team is understandable. Their consistently negative trajectory this year has pushed them to the midfield – and leaves questions about their chances of fighting at the front in 2024.
Today’s race (and the final this year) will give Aston Martin more indications about their progress. For their sake, Lance Stroll will show encouraging pace in the upgraded spec of the AMR23 from the pitlane today.