The Austin GP was a rollercoaster for Aston Martin. The AMR23 struggled significantly initially, with McLaren overtaking the British outfit in the standings. The car designed by Dan Fallows and Luca Furbatto seems to lose its way after an impressive start to 2023.
Friday in Texas was something of a nightmare, with Aston Martin starting with the wrong baseline set-up. The Sprint weekend format certainly didn’t help the team optimise its new package. The decision to break parc fermé, starting with both drivers from the pit lane, was a direct consequence of this.
However, on Sunday, the results were visible. Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso showed very strong pace on Sunday. Ultimately, though, this was a small consolation for a team who have fallen behind the likes of Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari.
The AMR23 underperformed in Austin due to the wrong starting setup
Since the Canadian GP, where the first important developments arrived, there has been talk of an AMR23 that has lost pace in direct comparison with its rivals. Mike Krack’s team, by its own admission, said it had difficulty finding the operating window of its car after trying to increase the downforce.
With these cars equipped with venturi channels, making developments has become more complicated since what is seen in the simulation does not always reflect the behaviour of the aerodynamic platform on the track.
In an F1 where testing is very limited, this is highlighted even more. Aston arrived in Austin with a starting setup that put both AMR23s completely out of their operating window. Additionally, brake overheating problems didn’t allow us to take action in time for qualifying.
The Texan track proved to be more difficult than expected for several teams, including Haas (and partly Ferrari), in also adopting the right aero-mechanical compromise. Haas performed significantly better in the race after the set-up changes, and both drivers had moved back into the points.
“We knew that the car could express significantly better performance than what we had seen on Friday and Saturday, which is why we decided to opt for a pragmatic approach, differentiating the packages and breaking the parc fermé,” declared the team’s head of aerodynamics Eric Blandin.
Alonso had to retire due to damage to the floor following an overly aggressive move over a curb, while Stroll managed to finish in P7, benefiting from the disqualifications of Hamilton and Leclerc.
Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren out-develop Aston Martin
According to Mike Krack, it is not so much their car that has taken steps backwards but mainly that Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren have had better progression with the developments:
“The distance from the top has not changed significantly. At the end of the race, the gap we experience is similar to that at the beginning of the year.”
The Silverstone team had to deal with a car that lost balance, also sensitive to external factors such as temperatures and bumps in the asphalt:
“If we now go back to Jeddah and Bahrain, there isn’t a big difference in the race pace between us and Red Bull. The only difference from before is that now there are three teams in the middle. ”
The “reinforced” T018 and TD039 technical directives went against one of the strong points of Dan Fallows’ car, namely using flexible aerodynamic parts, especially in relation to the front wing.
The Silverstone team, which begins its transition to Honda for 2026 and away from Mercedes, made a big leap with the AMR23 initially.
The final test was to compete with the top teams in the long run and on development, and so far, the results have not been as positive.
Lawrance Stroll’s team is investing heavily in the future, and the long-awaited proprietary wind tunnel by 2025 will be an important step in the direct comparison with big teams.
The new fund will be re-proposed in Mexico, but initial feedback from Austin has been ‘cautiously’ positive
The new Austin fund was promoted only on Stroll’s car, while on Alonso’s car, it was decided to turn around and use the old specification, taking advantage of the opening of the parc fermé seals.
The first data on the new fund are surrounded by a fair amount of caution, but Aston says that “the initial findings are nevertheless positive.”
With the new specification, Aston has once again intervened in the lower area of the undercut, which had been largely revised with the first upgrade in Canada.
In Belgium, a step backwards step was taken in that specific area, further corrected with the large Zandvoort package. Fernando Alonso’s P2 in Holland led us to believe that the new package had put the AMR23 back on track, though the following races were far less promising.
In the undercut area, the Aston Martin technicians did a bit of “back and forth” in trying to find the load without losing balance.
Looking specifically at Austin, the sidewalk was extensively revised, more similar in design to the competitors to better seal the flow through vortices specifically created to form a sort of barrier.
The choice to keep the new specification in the race on one of the two cars (Stroll) was dictated by the fact of exploiting every single kilometre for accurate data collection in view of the back-to-back with Mexico City.
Having a smoother and less concentrated weekend will allow Aston to optimise the new package. They will also bring a slightly revised diffuser and beam wing.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang